[sdiy] On the Internet, talk is cheap

Dave Manley dlmanley at sonic.net
Thu Feb 7 08:24:53 CET 2013

Tim, watch those reality based comments!

Interesting to look at a recent design - Elektron's A4 has per voice:

5x 4051
8x TLO64
2x 2164 (yes it is a cool audio part)
1x LM339

It is DCO based (like DSI stuff), and has a very flexible, almost instantaneously reconfigurable voice architecture.  (I believe the Tempest voice concept is similar but does rely on Dave Smith's unique access to CEM tech.)

The A4 looks well designed to mostly use jellybean parts, minimize unique components and drive volume.

A modern synth, no dual FETs/matched pairs, no CA3xxx, no trim pots, no 3300ppm resistors, no unobtanium.

If Elektron lost access to any of their current parts,  I have no doubt they'd quickly adapt and continue to release innovative products. It takes engineering talent and basic knowledge of how the electronics industry works, which they obviously have.

-------- Original Message --------
 From: Tim Ressel <timr at circuitabbey.com>
 Sent: Wed, Feb 6, 2013 10:28 PM
 To: 'synth-diy' <Synth-diy at dropmix.xs4all.nl>
 Subject: Re: [sdiy] On the Internet, talk is cheap

>This illustrates an important point: chip manufacturers are in business to make money, not to cater to a handful of hobbyists. Digikey and Mouser may have gotten their start serving hobbyists, but that was 30 years ago. Today volume is king. Even my volumes, which seem huge to me, are miniscule to DK and Mickey.
>I believe in free markets. Chips fall off the plan due to a fab shutting down. But that fab is bought by someone who starts making small batch parts. I think Cool Audio is in that camp. We find it in the vacuum tube and vinyl record markets as well. If the chips are really that good then someone will start making them.
>An obsolete chip may be painful to some, like the loss of an old friend, but it can also be a source of inspiration and discovery. It can shake us from the well-worn, comfortable paths and into the realm of the new. That can be loads of fun as well.
>Tim Ressel
>Circuit Abbey
>timr at circuitabbey.com
>From: Paul Schreiber <synth1 at airmail.net>
>To: 'synth-diy' <Synth-diy at dropmix.xs4all.nl> 
>Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 4:44 PM
>Subject: [sdiy] On the Internet, talk is cheap
>[about the SSM2164 and any other IC that is going away]
>a) you would figure CEM ICs would be a hot commodity in 1997-98, since only
>a few people had any (Dave Longo......cough). When I struck the deal with
>Doug Curtis for his NOS, I announced it, set up a website (which was VERY
>expensive back then), spammed everyone. I asked people that  *IF THEY WERE
>TRULY INTERESTED* in an *IMMEDIATE PURCHASE*, please send me an email.
>So, the day before the chips arrived, I had ~ 800 emails.
>Starting interest = 800 emails
>Bulls**t factor = 0.5
>So say 400 emails were what I would consider 'serious' and then from those
>maybe 300 were 'immediate' and the others would be 'when I deliver a few
>more pizzas'.
>I bought like 400 Uline boxes, bags, ESD labels, Avery labels and foam. I
>formally announced and waited.
>The incoming orders went something like this:
>Day 1: 2
>Day2: 0
>Day3 :1
>Day4: 0
>Day5: 0
>Day6 : 4 >>>got those pizzas out the door
>Day 30: at total of about 14 orders. In a MONTH. It took me *3 years* to
>*break even*. And this was for (supposedly) the hottest, hardest to find ICs
>on the planet.
>b) the analog chips of yore all on high-voltage (meaning 40V) process. Last
>time I checked, the iCrap doesn't run on +-15V. In fact, ever since Maxim
>invented the MAX232 RS-232 converter with the built-in charge pumps, there
>hasn't been a negative supply used in any PC and that was like 1988. Also,
>these 40V chips need a LOT of masks (like 50) versus the generic 0.18u TSMC
>digital parts (like 22) and remember, you pay *per wafer*, makes NO
>DIFFERENCE what the hell is on it or how many. Each technology has a fixed
>wafer cost. The typical MPU today on 0.18u has a die cost of probably 15
>cents. The 6u 40V die for an op amp is probably 4 cents. But if I am
>Qualcomm I can charge HTC $17 for a "baseband processor" in the cell phone,
>but if I am TI or ADI what the hell can I get for an op amp? 12 cents?
>Like was said before: it's NOT THE CHIP that gets obsoleted, it's the
>PROCESS FOR THE WAFERS. If the wafers can't attract business, then the
>wafers dry up and therefore the ICs associated with that wafer go away. I
>used to work for a military electronic company that used a special high-temp
>(125C operating) analog switch on a 12u process (100 times larger than
>modern stuff) and that process went tits-up in like 1994. But they did a
>last-time buy of like 100,000 die (which basically fits in 2 4-drawer file
>cabinets) and that was a *100 year supply*. In the IC industry, anytime you
>see 'last-time buy' that means you are on the die reserve, that process is
>Paul S.
>Synth-diy mailing list
>Synth-diy at dropmix.xs4all.nl
>Synth-diy mailing list
>Synth-diy at dropmix.xs4all.nl

More information about the Synth-diy mailing list