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kitplane01
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Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:37 am

How do airframe/engine manufacturers source very old electronics for new-build and repaired aircraft?

Example: The 777 had a first flight in 1994, and presumably had it's electronics designed before first flight. How do they get the CPUs and other chips needed to build a 777 today (and how will they get them for repairs in 2040)? I cannot imagine Intel/Arm/etc will run a factory to make a few hundred chips .. a few hundred thousand would seem low to them.

And if the 777 isn't old enough, surely some of the electronics in the original F-16 are still being installed in new-built F-16s. And that goes back to 1974!
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:40 am

AFAIK, the manufacturers of those bits simply buy components in bulk at the time. The FM in the A330 probably uses a 486 processor or the like and Honeywell have a bunch in a warehouse.
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WesternDC6B
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:27 am

A lot of components actually remain in production far longer than one might believe. They are made to fit devices that don’t require the power of today’s processor. The Z80 and its variants remained, and for all I know, still remain, in production long after the last computers running CP/M were retired. The Z80 went on to live in industrial controllers and other such things.
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kalvado
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 11:20 am

Long term availability is a part of original supplier contract. I know someone who works in car electronic components manufacturing, and they are committed to 10 year availability after the end of production - which is a lot for cars. Part of the reason why industrial grade stuff is more expensive than consumer grade.
 
gloom
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:32 pm

kitplane01 wrote:
I cannot imagine Intel/Arm/etc will run a factory to make a few hundred chips .. a few hundred thousand would seem low to them.


Most of chips are still available somewhere. A chip I ran first assembler on (8051, microcontroller back from 80s combining 8bit core, ROM and RAM, ports etc on one chip) is still in production by copy companies. 30 years later.

There are many small companies able to run small scale chips. Sure, they will cost few bucks more maybe, due to small numbers, but these can be done.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_x86_manufacturers

Cheers,
Adam
 
kalvado
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:17 pm

gloom wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
I cannot imagine Intel/Arm/etc will run a factory to make a few hundred chips .. a few hundred thousand would seem low to them.


Most of chips are still available somewhere. A chip I ran first assembler on (8051, microcontroller back from 80s combining 8bit core, ROM and RAM, ports etc on one chip) is still in production by copy companies. 30 years later.

There are many small companies able to run small scale chips. Sure, they will cost few bucks more maybe, due to small numbers, but these can be done.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_x86_manufacturers

Cheers,
Adam

Most is still old stock. Once you start talking small batch fabrication, it is not few bucks more, it is few hundreds more.
As an example - Rochester Electronics is one of such old chip companies. Just compare old stock with own production:
https://www.rocelec.com/search?q=80286
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:27 am

Still pocket change compared to an entire panel upgrade
 
gloom
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:17 am

kalvado wrote:
Most is still old stock. Once you start talking small batch fabrication, it is not few bucks more, it is few hundreds more.


It is few tenths, or few hundreds, depending on chip and sales.
I've found new 8051 at 6 or 7 bucks a piece. When new, back in 80s they were at 4 bucks, I believe?

As an example - Rochester Electronics is one of such old chip companies. Just compare old stock with own production:
https://www.rocelec.com/search?q=80286


286 never really was popular. It was 386 that changed PC. So you pay extra.
If you check 486 at Rocelec, the price is around 150-200 bucks. I guess 486 was around that price when launched as well. And 486 as example seems adequate since many planes utilize that.

Cheers,
Adam
 
kalvado
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Re: Sourcing old electronics for new planes

Thu Apr 01, 2021 12:45 pm

gloom wrote:
kalvado wrote:
Most is still old stock. Once you start talking small batch fabrication, it is not few bucks more, it is few hundreds more.


It is few tenths, or few hundreds, depending on chip and sales.
I've found new 8051 at 6 or 7 bucks a piece. When new, back in 80s they were at 4 bucks, I believe?

As an example - Rochester Electronics is one of such old chip companies. Just compare old stock with own production:
https://www.rocelec.com/search?q=80286


286 never really was popular. It was 386 that changed PC. So you pay extra.
If you check 486 at Rocelec, the price is around 150-200 bucks. I guess 486 was around that price when launched as well. And 486 as example seems adequate since many planes utilize that.

Cheers,
Adam

Again, you have to look carefully at the offer. There are 2 flavors of 80286 offered by rocelec, that's why I choose them as an example: those listed with Intel/AMD as a manufacturer; those are less than $100; they are shown as OBSolete, and manufacturing date would be 19XX.
Alternatively, there are "RE active" chips, which can still be made to order - but the price is $800 per chip. Which is not that expensive for custom production.

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