An example is LTC’s range of μModule voltage regulators. Resembling a surface mount IC, each product includes system-in-a-package solution that aims to simplify design and minimizes external components. Internally, the layout and design are optimized for electrical and thermal efficiency. Built to the industry’s highest standards, these modules offer reliability approaching that of standard ICs.
Another factor in the selection of components at the design stage is that of cost. First, it is important to distinguish between component price and solution cost. Using the example of the μModule voltage regulator above, the solution cost equates to the unit price, whereas looking only at the DC-DC controller and MOSFET unit costs would not take into account the passive components, magnetics, design time and technical challenges associated with developing a high-efficiency switching regulator. Again the skills gap may play into this calculation. Furthermore, the lifetime cost for a given solution will be heavily dependent on the long-term availability of the component. If a redesign is required, the costs could easily dominate the lifetime cost as the example below shows. Component 1 has to be redesigned twice whereas component 2 remains available for the lifetime of the program.
Clearly, even a reduced unit price with each redesign is insufficient to offset the redesign costs, which may be far more substantial than those indicated here in reality.