Propeller 1 Lead Time (QFP/DIP) Increase May Cause Shortage

Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,046
edited October 12 in Propeller 1 Vote Up0Vote Down
Hello,

While we continually manage the P8X32A inventory with a safety stock buffer, customer needs and supply chain changes can still put us in out-of-stock situations. Today we received a notification from the semiconductor foundry that a "massive increase in global semiconductor market" and a production line equipment issue will ultimately increase Parallax's lead time for wafers. The increase in lead time could amount to 45 days of additional time. Inventory planning may seem simple on the surface, always solved by "just getting a lot of chips in stock" to those who view this from the distance. That's not the best way to manage inventory. The variables in inventory planning include unknowns (orders), internal production needs for our products, lead times, yields, cash planning and safety stock. These details are generally handled through a system of simple calculations you can imagine, plus a set of human factors where we modify the results to include pieces of information that don't readily get accounted for in formulas. And it changes by the day - what we have today only applies to this moment in time. We have wafers coming in from prior purchases, too. If you are one of our more enthusiastic customers who monitors our on-line inventory real-time you'll be missing pieces needed to make an accurate guess of what's going on. Parts are usually in transit, in test, in packaging, etc. For example, I think we might have only 1,500 QFPs available for order today (it's a guess; I'm not even going to check) but the pipeline has another 21K units coming in.

If you want the bottom line, it's possible that sometime between February and April we could run low or out of stock on Propeller 1 chips for an unknown period of time. It's also possible we have NO gap in supply and this message will have no purpose.

If you use Propeller 1 chips in production, this is what ensures your supply during these times:

- Have your Purchasing Manager build a lead time of at least 60 days into your planning
- Place purchase orders now for future delivery needs; we fill in the order we receive unless there's a delivery date

Don't be a hoarder, either. This isn't a chance to make an extra buck :)

In times like this, we often receive a frantic inquiry like "are you not going to make Propeller 1s anymore?". Parallax depends on Propeller 1s for our business. Even if the foundry were to end the production line we'd still have several years of opportunity to buy lifetime supplies. You might notice that we still have SX chips from well over ten years ago, for example. There is no threat to the future of the Propeller 1.

This is my friendly message providing enough information to stay informed. Feel free to communicate with us about your concerns.

Thanks,

Ken Gracey

Comments

  • 4 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Thanks for the heads up Ken.
    Excellent explanation for those who don't know.

    We haven't seen a blowout in lead times for many years. What happens as a result is everyone increases their orders just in case, which then has a ripple effect. I have actually seen factory lead times blow out to 2 years and more. Of course in reality this doesn't really happen as customers cancel their "extra" orders when they get close.

    The burglars buy up high demand chips like DRAM, so I'd expect FLASH to be included this time around if it happens.

    Things are also different this time around. In the past, a lot of chip companies had their own foundaries in house. These days there are a few foundry only companies (TSMC) or the big ones (Intel, Samsung) although these tend to be cutting edge. Some of the older foundries still exist (OnSemi).
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
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  • I just noticed that there are only 31 DIP chips on the Parallax site. They will probably be gone when I post this. :)

    Good news is Digikey has 2,456 ready to ship

    and Mouser has 1,390 ready to ship.

    I have not checked others, RS etc.
    Infernal Machine
  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,482
    edited October 13 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    ... Today we received a notification from the semiconductor foundry that a "massive increase in global semiconductor market" and a production line equipment issue
    That second bit sounds more ominous than the first.
    Exactly what "production line equipment issue" is there, and can that production line be kept alive for many more years ?
    I've seen parts go EOL because the foundry line had some critical machine fail, with no replacements.

    Addit:
    I see LFE5U-12F-6MG285C are showing lead times of late Q4 2017, maybe Parallax could look at a LFE5U version of FLiP etc, to cover the bases & reduce risk ?
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,046
    edited October 16 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Exactly what "production line equipment issue" is there, and can that production line be kept alive for many more years? I've seen parts go EOL because the foundry line had some critical machine fail, with no replacements.

    I don't know, nor can I change the nature of the situation so I don't ask unless the issue appears to include some threat to Parallax business (which it does not, at this time).

    Ken Gracey
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