TORONTO – All good things must come to an end, and that includes memory components.
But while Windows XP users were forced to upgrade to a new operating system when Microsoft ended support, end-of-life (EOL) memory by major vendors is not always the final nail in the coffin, and there are customers who have valid reasons for wanting to stick with what works.
In an era where memory is rapidly evolving to keep up with the performance requirements, the idea that there’s still life for older memory might seem odd, but as Jim Handy, principal analyst with Objective Analysis, tells me, there are a number of industries employing equipment with significantly long life spans that have specific memory requirements, including the telecommunications industry. And while components including memory may not last as long as equipment such as networking gear, these companies want to be able to replace failed memory with something exactly the same, and ideally, not have to requalify it, because this equipment has been in use for decades and is still expected to last for years to come.
This where is a company such as a Alliance Memory steps in. The San Carlos, Calif.-based company is a fabless semiconductor company that focuses on manufacturing legacy SRAM, DRAM, and SDRAM ICS, and it is always looking to expand its portfolio to support customers that EOL memories.
Most recently, Alliance Memory announced it would extend the life of several EOL products from Micron, including three 512M SDRAM devices that Micron discontinued, including both the commercial and industrial temperature 32M x 16 MT48LC32M16A2P-75:C and commercial temperature 64M x 8 MT48LC64M8A2P-75:C. In addition to the part numbers, the company will also offer Alliance-marked 512M SDRAMs manufactured by Micron, which will be 100% identical to the Micron parts.
Offered in a 54-pin TSOP II package, these devices are optimized for medical, industrial, automotive, and telecom applications requiring high memory bandwidth, according to David Bagby, president of Alliance Memory. Devices with the Alliance Memory part numbers are 100% equivalent to the corresponding Micron part number, he said, and each device has been manufactured to the same wafer/assembly and test materials and process as the corresponding Micron part number, with only the top-side marking being different. The agreement with Micron is somewhat unique for Alliance Memory, said Bagby, in that it is a formal partnership and Micron will manufacture these devices.
Alliance Memory acquired the fast asynchronous product line from Alliance Semiconductor and since then it has expanded its portfolio of EOL memory products for the communications, computing, consumer electronics, medical, automotive, and industrial markets. The company’s product line includes a full range of asynchronous and synchronous SRAMs, low-power SRAMs, ZMD low-power SRAMs, 3.3 V synchronous DRAMs, mobile DDRs, and 2.5 V single (DDR1), 1.8 V double (DDR2), and 1.5 V & 1.35 V triple rate (DDR3) synchronous DRAMs.
In general, Bagby said Alliance Memory is always looking to expand its portfolio of memory products that include EOLed products from major vendors, although he noted that those vendors have shrunk significantly over the years with Micron, Samsung, and SK Hynix being the main players.
Bagby said customers are often not aware there are options when memory products hits EOL; the deal with Micron enables them to keeping buying the same components without requalifying, something Objective Analysis’ Handy said can be a cost-prohibitive process depending on the use case and equipment.
Bagby said even if a customer ends up buying an Alliance Memory-manufactured version of an EOL product, requalifying the memory can still be a much more affordable option than replacing the equipment that needs an EOL component. And although it’s inevitable that all memory products eventually become obsolete, Bagby said Alliance memory is committed to long-term support of EOL products if it’s profitable.
Most of the companies focusing on the same market as Alliance Memory are based in Asia and do not have a high profile, said Bagby, noting the other vendor that has significant visibility is Milpitas, Calif.-based Integrated Silicon Solutions Inc.