Electronic Products & Technology

Feature

Central Semiconductor touts customization, specialization of discretes


From its early days of being recognized as a fabless manufacturer of germanium ICs, Central Semiconductor has set its sights today on becoming the preferred manufacturer of the most innovative discrete semiconductors in the industry.

Already established as a world-class provider of discretes with global support to leading OEMs, ODMs and CEMs, the Hauppauge, Long Island NY-based firm is also the only North American semi maker focused specifically on discrete semiconductors, according to Tom Donofrio, marketing manager for Central Semi.

“Our objective is to exceed the customers’ expectations. No one else will do what we do,” Donofrio adds. “We are held to a higher standard, with the quality of our products and service levels.”

With open dialogue between Central Semi’s applications engineers, customers are assisted with selection of the right device for the right application. The firm enlists stringent quality control, providing a rapid and efficient design process, insuring minimal development lead times. All of its wafer probing is performed in Central’s class 1000 cleanroom, while all devices are tested again after assembly.

“Our high throughput automated inspection and test equipment insures all devices pass through very strict standards,” says Joe Beck, director of engineering, Central Semi. The firm’s product analysis lab utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to provide thorough analysis and inspection of devices.

Along with the reliability and device qualification testing, all products achieve or exceed RoHS2 and REACH compliancy, while each customer receives detailed material composition data.

“What’s old is new again in discretes, as designers focus their attention to the key concern of energy efficiency”

“What’s old is new again in discretes, as designers focus their attention to the key concern of energy efficiency,” Beck says. “Energy efficiency has become paramount, as applications become more battery driven. Power discretes are the biggest consumers of energy. As a result, a focus on discretes is the best way for engineers to improve the overall energy efficiency of their designs. The best solution is not a ‘jelly bean’ commodity component anyone can select out of a distributor’s catalog.”

Since its formation in 1974, Central Semi can boast a handful of ‘firsts’ within its manufacturing history, including:

* First manufacturer to develop a dual MOSFET in the SOT-563 package;

* First and only manufacturer to develop a 2A, 100V Schottky Bridge Rectifier in the HD DIP package;

* First manufacturer to develop a surface mount SCR in the TLM532 package.

“Central maintains a sizeable inventory of raw materials and finished goods to insure customer demand is always satisfied,” Donofrio adds. “Approximately 20% of our revenue is generated through the production of obsolescent parts.”

As leading-edge semiconductor firms discontinue certain inventory items, Central Semi assumes production of its ‘older tech’.

“We started making stuff that nobody else would make anymore. Now, we’re making products that nobody else does”

“We started making stuff that nobody else would make anymore. Now, we’re making products that nobody else does,” Beck says. “There remains lots of innovation in discretes today. They are not going away – the technology is not getting sucked into the IC.”

Market segments Central plays in are broad and varied, including: consumer, computers/networking, industrial controls, alternative energy, test & measurement, medical, military/avionics, automotive. Half of the component types the firm produces are evenly split between diodes (26%) and small signal transistors (25%). Central Semi also makes small signal MOSFETs (17%), along with rectifiers (16%) and bipolar power transistors (15%).

“A huge driver of discrete growth is the significant increase in electronic content of numerous end-products,” Beck adds. “In the past, a thermostat for your home would contain 50-cents worth of electronics, whereby today, smart meters can have as much as $50 worth built in.”

Underscoring its capabilities in specific areas, Central Semi dedicates one-third of its time to innovative new product development, while half of its time is spent on obsolescence management and special, custom selected products. Only 17% of the firm’s focus remains set on delivering commodity components. The vast majority of its designs are conducted within North America (65%), while close to one-third is split between Europe (15%) and Asia 15%.

“Every product has a customer and a potential customer, and every customer has several potential suppliers anxious for the business,” said Jack Radgowski, founder & CEO Central Semiconductor, as stated in a recent recent article in Electronics Sourcing.. “It makes little difference how good you think your product is, if the customer isn’t delighted, or at least somewhat satisfied with your design, the chances are he/she might not be back.”

“Fulfilling the specific requirements of our customers goes a long way towards satisfaction”

“Fulfilling the specific requirements of our customers goes a long way towards satisfaction, thus maximizing the chances of repeat business,” Radgowski adds. “Our goal is to do everything we can to help make the customer’s product positively stand out over his/her competitor’s. Nothing will turn off a customer more than a field problem and nothing will hurt their company more than a failure that is attributable to your product.”

After more than three decades of building quality discretes, Central Semi strives to ensure its components meet strict reliability level standards of single PPM values. Numbers of this level can only be achieved as a result of millions of unit hours of ongoing accelerated life testing, on substantial samples of production lots of product of the same family, with minimum failure.

“We pride ourselves on the ability to turn around a discrete design quickly, within two to three weeks from idea to sample product,” Beck notes.

The manufacture of the firm’s semiconductor components begins with wafers of high quality, designed and perfected over time and produced to withstand even the slightest minute changes of electrical characteristics when subjected to: package assembly, subsequent high temperature stabilization baking, and use in the field by the customer over the useful life of the end product.

“The semiconductor specification lists typical electrical characteristics, as well as limits and maximum ratings. The circuit designer must make certain that the semiconductor component’s maximum ratings of voltage, current, and temperature are not exceeded. Issues of capacitance require most of today’s designs to implement some level of Electrostatic discharge (ESD), such as transient suppression devices,” Radgowski added.

“You need to make certain that your product is designed and manufactured using components of reputable quality and reliability and not of questionable origin. It doesn’t pay to skimp here,” Radgowski concludes. “One failed component, resulting in just one field failure can permanently damage your company’s reputation, resulting in a lost customer and business. Again, your goal should be to do all within your power to enhance your customers’ products.”