Image of a desert with a sand storm looming on the horizon

What are End-of-Life or Last-Time-Buy electronic components?

Today with the rapid rate of change in technology, it is increasingly common for electronic component manufacturers to announce that certain chips or components, such as the NXP Semiconductor (previously Freescale Semiconductor) MC145026DR2 IC ENCODER 9 LINE SMPLX 16-SOIC, are End-of-Life (EOL) or a Last-Time-Buy (LTB).

The problem with EOL and LTB

In sectors with long development cycles, manufacturers may often receive the first EOL notifications from component vendors before their product even goes into mass production.

An LTB date is the last date on which the vendor will accept orders from interested parties. Before this date, manufacturers who use any of these items in their products must determine once and for all how many of that part they will need.

At this point, manufacturers face the challenge of balancing the capital cost of buying and stocking too many parts against the opportunity cost of buying too few and must weigh the decision in terms of the variables of real need v. market erosion.

Imagine being in a desert with limited water, totally at the mercy of the wind and the sand, and thirst…

Image of a desert with a sand storm looming on the horizon

Searching for EOL or LTB electronic components in the open market is just as difficult as wandering through a desert because it is full of difficulties and risks:

  • counterfeit parts
  • defective, damaged or relabelled components
  • companies with unethical and fraudulent business practices

The impact of Moore's Law

Moore’s Law and the increasingly diminishing dimensions of transistors (the essential atomic components of integrated circuits) are the core reason for component obsolescence. Moore’s observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years has proved true for the past 50 years. On the other hand the rate at which this number doubles is only beginning to slow now.

While miniaturization has brought constant improvements to aspects of performance such as switching speeds and power consumption, the dominant reason for this rapid technological development has been cost saving. A smaller transistor occupies less space and, in the world of silicon, cost is proportionate to the area occupied.

For example, consider Intel’s transition from a 22nm processor to a 14nm processor, which coincides with their transition from the Haswell to the Broadwell processor families. Both processors have the same microarchitecture, however the Broadwell boasts a 35% increase in the number of transistors while its mould size has been reduced by 37%. Intel switched from a 22nm processor to a 14nm processor not only to provide the best performance and additional functionality, but to convert area reduction into cost savings.

What to do

Stock is generally available of products for which there is little demand because they have been replaced by innovative models.

In all cases, i.e. both for end-of-life items and for newer, more innovative items, there is always the danger of running into counterfeit products or scam operators.

That is why you should only use reputable independent distributors such as Electronic Partner – professionals who work to establish reliable, authentic and continuous sources of supply to ensure high quality service to their customers with whom they build lasting partnerships.

Do you need electronic components? Do you have a reputable and professional partner to help you?

We’re ready to form a team and build a win-win relationship with you.

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