White Papers

FPGA Obsolescence Management


MacAulay-Brown, Inc. (MacB) offers design recovery and retargeting as an alternative to redesign for obsolete programmable logic components in aging U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) systems. With a unique capability, we translate a binary programming fi le of a digital logic device into a human readable, retargetable circuit description. This automated process helps to reduce cost, schedule and risk by offering a simple path from an obsolete part to a maintainable component in critical systems. MacB focuses these services on the Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) logic-bearing integrated circuit, known as the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), and the case where the design source or tools may not be available.

Modern electronic systems can take years to plan, develop and certify, and they often remain operational in the fi eld for decades. As systems and devices age, periodic updates as illustrated in Figure 1, may be needed to keep the system operational. Replacement of obsolete or hard-to-find parts with newer available integrated circuits may become necessary, and methods to replace or recover functional and electrical parameters from the original microelectronic device are needed. Original technical data, such as source, may not be available, and these data losses obligate electronic systems providers to consider costly options, such as redesign of the component, board and/or system from requirements, as highlighted in red in Figure 1, or last time buys of nearly obsolete microelectronic parts to temporarily extend the lifetime of aging systems. These approaches are in direct conflict with the rapid lifecycles and cost-benefi ts of COTS devices.

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