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Off-line vs In-System Programming

Off-line vs In-System Programming

Off-line vs In-System Programming

BPM Microsystems is exploring different ways to get devices programmed. According to the case study “What is the Best Way to Get Devices Programmed,” there are six main ways to program devices. This case study explores two of those six methods: In-system Programming (ISP) and Off-line programming.

Upfront, it is understood that BPM provides off-line automated and manual programming solutions and accessories. BPM used to provide an ISP solution: the 2800ISP. In many ways, the 2800ISP was a programming marvel that solved many of the problems traditionally associated with ISP because it allowed customers to program large memory devices in high-speed parallel mode, similar to in-socket programming.

 

Microchip Pickit 3 is an example of a chip development kit that can be modified for a production environment

In-system programming (ISP) allows some devices to be programmed after it’s soldered on the PCB board. This allows firmware updates and small data uploads, integrating programming and final test into a single step. There are compelling reasons to program at the final test, such as when x-ray inspection (on certain types of devices) requires programming as the last step. Likewise, because of the attributes of PCM technology, any preprogrammed data to the device would be lost after reflow, therefore requiring in-system programming equipment. Occasionally, multiple devices reference each other and are programmed differently based on feedback between the devices on board; while rare, there isn’t another solution in that particular case.

In-system programming also allows for product “versioning” where the same circuit boards receive different software versions for different products or different functions. This can also be accomplished on off-line programming via API with inventory control. Lastly, there are fewer consumable materials involved with ISP (input such as trays or tapes, sockets, etc.).

How ISP works

FlashRunner 2.0 16-channel ISP programmer

Typically, In-system programming is accomplished by a variety of home-grown solutions, chip development kits adapted for production, and/or ISP-specific universal modules, such as the FlashRunner from SMH. They all share a fixture of some sort that connects the devices on-board to the programming interface. Typically a “bed of nails” fixture is used with pogo pins that come in contact with the board to enable the electro-mechanical interface. Fixtures are designed for long-life cycles, with the pins needing to be replaced periodically.

For specific use cases, ISP is the most effective method: short programming times, requiring flash or firmware updates at the end of the line, with no physical changes to the boards for several years.

Set-ups

In-circuit programming requires a test engineer to design, set up, and qualify the equipment. The initial set-ups can be fairly extensive (and expensive), usually requiring an outside consultant to design the fixture and to configure the controllers. Prior to production, there may be up to a week of in-house configuration to ensure all components are functioning correctly. Due to the complexity of a typical ISP setup, it may take more time to troubleshoot all the potential issues, such as signal integrity caused by longer cable lengths, power issues, and more. If time to market strategy is a potential issue, other options may need to be explored.

If changes to the board are required, a new fixture is required, which is priced according to the complexity and the number of pins required. As a rule of thumb, fixtures such as bed-of-nails start around $2,000 USD and average about $5,000.  This price does not include the engineering expertise to develop and qualify the solution.

Final Test

Bottlenecks

Programming complexity may cause the ISP beat rate to decrease to a point where it becomes a bottleneck. The trend in programming is more data; if the programming/test takes more than the other processes behind it, your line will outpace the final production rate. Product lifecycles also need to be factored in– ISP works best for standardized boards with years of life expectancy, and not so much for quicker-turn products, such as consumer electronics and automotive components.

Potential Roadblocks

What happens if the ISP programmer stops working? Your line goes down until it can be fixed. The same goes for bent/broken pogo pins, although they can usually be fixed fairly quickly. Development tools may lack log file information that comes with universal systems; log files can help to pinpoint what went wrong and what can be done to fix it. 

What happens if you get a red light at the final test? This indicates that one or more of the devices failed. Your choices are to scrap the board, or send it to manual rework (find the bad device(s), desolder, remove, insert a fresh device, solder, and send back to test for programming). If PCBs are panelized, the manufacturer needs a method to isolate and rework bad boards, including programming (which may require a separate fixture). With off-line, all programmed devices have been pre-tested. The only issue may be a bad solder, which can be fixed fairly easily.

ISP fixtures require special storage when not in use. They are delicate instruments that require special handling. Fixtures are not universal– if a tester is replaced, most likely you’ll need a new fixture.

Off-line Programming

A dime and a BGA device compared to a tiny CSP device

Off-line programming is a separate process where blank chips are programmed on high-speed robotic systems and placed into output media, usually tape. Off-line machines are best suited for medium to high volume as well as high mix (many different types of devices); they have more capacity and greater flexibility than ISP. They can change quickly to adapt to new projects and will not become obsolete when a project changes. For instance, BPM Microsystems Automated Programmers have almost no size or type limitation for devices; they can handle CSP devices as small as 0.5 x 1.0 mm, or QFP devices up to 35x35mm.

Flexible

Socket Card

The flexibility comes from the socket adapters and the universal programming technology. Socket modules and socket cards are the electro-mechanical interfaces between the programmable semiconductor device and the programmer. The robust design is ideal for manufacturing and design environments where high signal integrity and reliable performance are critical. The sophisticated technology of BPM Microsystems’ active circuitry delivers the cleanest waveform signals to the device by eliminating noise, ground bounce, and overshoot, which allows for the most reliable vector testing available to ensure the highest quality and overall yield. 

Depending on the device, up to 4 sockets can be installed on each programming site. Therefore, it’s possible to program millions of devices per year (depending on the complexity of programming specifications and peripheral operations, such as laser marking). The same socket and algorithm used to create the first article are also used for production.

Scalable

Off-line programming systems are scalable. As needs change, you can add sockets, sites, shifts, or even additional systems. BPM systems make adding additional shifts simple. Set-ups and operations do not require a highly experienced technician. BPM systems are designed to run three shifts with over 85% utilization rate. One off-line APS can support multiple SMT lines.

What makes BPM’s systems better? WhisperTeach™— BPM’s advanced patented Auto-Z teach technology eliminates the need for a highly-skilled operator to set critical Z-height for pick-and-place functions. WhisperTeach™ offers faster setup times and improved yields. WhisperTeach™ eliminates common Z-height errors such as miss picks, miss place, and socket continuity flaws.

BPM’s process software, BPWin, is the best in the industry and provides functionality, quality, and control from design to production. BPM’s engineering teams create new features every week. The user-friendly interface helps you set up, run and save your programming jobs with ease. Factory integration through the BPWin API streamlines production processes. BPWin offers serialization and secure programming for various requirements (and much more). Read more here.

High Mix

In-line programming systems, such as FlashRunner, are not made for high-mix programming. If the number of programmable devices exceeds the number of channels, you will need to upgrade or add additional test machines for the additional devices. BPM Automated systems can switch jobs in three to 10 minutes. That means BPM systems are producing while ISP systems are still being set up, which can take days. Over the course of a year, this can equal hundreds of additional hours of productivity, even in one-shift shops.

ISP solutions are dedicated to one project.  If you run multiple projects on an SMT line you have to have redundant ISP programmers that are on the shelf, at least part-time. Off-line allows you to maximize equipment utilization, supporting multiple SMT lines and multiple products in a single factory.

BPM’s 9th Gen Site technology supports over 40,000 devices, with new development adding to that number every month. BPM’s sites have up to 240 pin drivers with access to all of the pins. Development tools used in ISP are limited to a few devices in a particular semiconductor house’s family of devices. Universal ISP programmers are more “universal” but have much less than BPM’s solution. They do provide new development for unsupported devices but expect several weeks for development and qualification.

Small Footprint

Automated programming systems are surprisingly compact when you consider their capabilities. BPM’s latest system, the 3928, is 162 x 96cm (tape in/out takes up a little more room) and is capable of programming 28 devices simultaneously. It uses standard factory power; the only additional requirement is compressed air. Typically, the system can be installed on the same floor as the SMT line. Machines are installed and operational within five working days.

In Conclusion

In-system programming is a solution to consider for low to medium mix programming with very short programming times. If x-ray scanning of boards is used, depending on the device, ISP may be the only option. ISP lacks the flexibility available from off-line programming systems. With advances in complex programming, especially for automotive applications, ISP may be a good fit now, but will that still be true a year from now? For a growing number of companies and applications, off-line programming may be a future-proof investment that generates positive ROI in weeks, not years (see ROI article).

For more information about BPM’s Automated Programming Systems or to speak to one of our experts about your particular requirements, please call +1 (713) 263-3776 or toll-free in the US or Canada (855) SELL BPM.

Offline Automated Programming vs Inline SMT Programming

Offline Automated Programming vs Inline SMT Programming

In the case study “What is the Best Way to Get Devices Programmed,” BPM Microsystems explored six main ways to get your data on devices. The answer is “Depends.” The short answer is there is no one way that is always better than another. This case study explores two of those six methods: Inline SMT programming and Off-line programming.

A small segment of electronic manufacturing services (EMS) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can use inline programming solutions effectively and economically, compared to off-line programming. A lack of flexibility, high cost, and the specter of obsolescence should raise questions about the long-term viability of Inline programming.

RoadRunner Inline Programmer from Data I/O

 

 

 

Inline SMT Programming

Inline SMT programming is a solution to consider for narrow segments of device programming requiring short programming times, with medium to high volume, for just one device type. Back in the day, that’s what programmed some of the most popular cell phones, when on-board memory sizes were Mbits compared to today’s designs with Gbit memory sizes. Benefits of inline programming include just-in-time programming (which has its own problems lately; see article here), simplified inventory management, and lean manufacturing. If that sounds like your process, and that process won’t change in the next five years, inline programming should be considered (or possibly programming at test, but that’s for a future article).

RoadRunner is an inline SMT programming solution from Data I/O; it has been on the market since the early 2000s. Data I/O advertise the RoadRunner as The world’s only just-in-time inline programming system.” There are other inline programmers as well; for the most part, they are sophisticated, albeit expensive, home-grown solutions.

When programming times are in excess of the beat rate  (beat rate is the total throughput per time on an SMT line) of the SMT line, inline SMT programming becomes less attractive because the programmer is not providing enough parts to keep up with the line speed. In short, programming becomes the line bottleneck. As data density, device complexity, and the number of devices continue to increase, the need to reduce the cost of programming will be amplified like never before. Inline programming becomes less cost-effective and less time-effective as programming time increases because multiple units may be required to keep pace with the line beat rate. 

Inline is Wide

Inline solutions attach at the tape feeder table, and are large, compared to standard tape feeders, taking up to 6 (or more) feeder positions on the placement machine. Depending on the complexity and mix of devices delivered on the tape reel, there may not be spare “real estate” for the inline programmer. It’s important to verify there’s room before committing to an inline solution.

Multiple inline programmers may be required per machine if the programming time is longer than a single system can keep up with, or if multiple programmed devices are needed. That has a double cost: less available tape space, and the expense of additional inline programmers. The problem is obvious. The potential requirement to add another placement machine makes device programming inline a very expensive process. 

Socket Capacity

RoadRunner utilizes sockets to program devices. Sockets are the electro-mechanical interface that uploads the signal from the computer to program a device. A small robotic arm moves the blank device to an awaiting socket and then returns the freshly programmed device to the tape, which feeds directly to the SMT pick and place machine. Sockets are “consumables” and require cleaning, maintenance, and replacement when their lifecycle is complete. Normally, the lifecycle can be managed between shifts, but what happens when a socket fails? Your expensive SMT will have to idle until the socket is replaced. BPM Automated systems have built-in fault tolerance; if a socket fails, the system simply bypasses that socket until it can be replaced. This may only cause a slight reduction in throughput, rather than shutting down the SMT line.

Backups

Inline programmers require redundant back-ups because of the high cost of line-down events on the SMT line. What happens if the backup inline programmers go down as well? Regardless, backup inline programmers are an additional expense, but beware if you get talked into buying only one.

Depending on the number of SMT lines at your facility, each placement machine will require its own set. This can begin to add up quickly, especially if you factor in backups. What’s more, if you have different SMT equipment, you probably can’t share a RoadRunner made for different machine brands: for example, a RoadRunner designed for a Fuji SMT most likely won’t operate on a Juki machine.

Expensive

Inline SMT programming solutions tend to run on the pricey side, especially when backup systems are factored in. If the SMT line is idle, the inline programmer is idle as well. If expensed using a standard five-year depreciation, there’s no guarantee that an inline programmer will not be sitting on a shelf while it’s still being “paid” for (perhaps by no fault of its own, but because of changes in programmables or a loss of a particular project). Today, product life cycles are shorter than ever before. Consider the financial model before investing in inline programming. 

Crystal Ball

Unless you can see into the future, it’s difficult to know what your SMT line will look like in a year, let alone five. What happens if your project changes or design modifications necessitate different programmables? RoadRunner, for example, is offered in a range of sizes; if a larger device is spec’d, you may need a new RoadRunner, while the “old” programmer collects dust on a shelf. More likely, more data is required on the device, which will slow the entire line, unless more inline programmers are purchased. 

Off-line Programming

Off-line programming, like the name implies, is a separate process where blank chips are programmed on high-speed robotic systems and placed into output media, usually tape. Off-line machines are best suited for medium to high volume, high mix (many different types of devices); they have more capacity and greater flexibility. They can change quickly to adapt to new projects and will not become obsolete when a project changes. For instance, BPM Microsystems Automated Programmers have almost no size or type limitation for devices; they can handle CSP devices as small as 0.5 x 1.0 mm, or QFP devices up to 35x35mm.

Flexible

The flexibility comes from the sockets. Depending on the device, up to 4 sockets can be installed on each site. Therefore, it’s possible to program thousands of devices per hour (depending on the complexity of programming specifications and peripheral operations, such as laser marking). The same socket used to create the first article is also used for production.

Same Process

It’s worth mentioning that off-line programming utilizes the exact same process used on placement machines: reels of components and devices are loaded by an operator. Reels of programmed devices take up less space on the placement machine (1 or 2 slots) than an inline programmer (6 or more). What’s more, inline programming systems require fresh reels of blank devices periodically, requiring a pause while the operator feeds in a new tape. Devices programmed off-line can be set up with two (or more) locations the SMT machine can use; as the tape reel runs out, it shifts over to a fresh reel while the operator replaces the empty reel with a new one.

Scalable

Off-line programming systems are scalable. As needs change, you can add sockets, sites, shifts, or even additional systems. BPM systems make adding additional shifts simple. Set-ups and operations do not require a highly experienced technician. BPM systems are designed to run three shifts with over 85% utilization rate. One off-line Automated Programming System can support multiple SMT lines. 

High Mix

Inline SMT programming systems, such as RoadRunner, are not made for high-mix programming. Each system is dedicated to a particular device; depending on the device, you may need a whole new RoadRunner. BPM Automated systems can switch jobs in typically 15 minutes or less; they are up and running while comparable systems require two to three times more time to set up. That means BPM systems are producing while other systems are still being set up. Over the course of a year, this can equal hundreds of additional hours of productivity, even in one-shift shops.

Small Footprint

Automated programming systems are surprisingly compact when you consider their capabilities. BPM’s latest system, the 3928, is 162 x 96cm (tape in/out takes up a little more room) and is capable of programming 28 devices simultaneously. It uses standard factory power; the only additional requirement is compressed air. Typically, the system can be installed on the same floor as the SMT line. Machines are installed and operational within five working days.

Conclusion

  Inline SMT Programming Off-line Programming
Number of tape slots on SMT machine Up to 6 for each device 1-2 (depends on device/tape width)
Number of programmers 1 for each device (plus backup) 1
(can supply several SMT lines)
High volume programming Yes Yes
High mix  No Yes
Universal  No Yes
Require advanced operator No No
Scalable Limited/ Expensive* Yes
Need backup systems Yes No (spare site recommend)

*Inline is scalable but the cost is double to go from 1 to 2. Offline has an incremental cost much less than inline

Inline SMT programming is a solution to consider for high volume, low mix programming with very short programming times. It lacks the flexibility available from off-line programming systems. With advances in complex programming, especially for automotive applications, inline may be a good fit now, but will that still be true a year from now? For a growing number of companies and applications, off-line programming may be a future-proof investment that generates positive ROI in weeks, not years (see ROI article).

For more information about BPM’s Automated Programming Systems or to speak to one of our experts about your particular requirements, please call +1 (713) 263-3776 or toll-free in the US or Canada (855) SELL BPM.

Universal Device Programmers

Universal Device Programmers

Some solutions are more “universal” than others

There are quite a few device programming solutions that describe themselves as “universal.” You would think everyone is using the term “universal” the same way. Think again.

“Universal” as an adjective, means: “of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases,” (Definitions from Oxford Languages). What does it mean to be “universal?” First, let’s go back to the first “universal” programmer…

BPM 1200, the First Universal Programmer

In the early 1990s, there was no such thing as a universal device programmer. If you wanted to program a different family of devices (for instance, an EPROM and a TSOP), it required purchasing two (or more) different programmers. The reason was the interface between the device and the programmer was hard-wired.

In 1992, BPM Microsystems (back then, they were called BP Microsystems) developed the 1200 Manual Programmer with a serial port connector. It was the first “universal” programmer– you could request additional device interfaces that would allow you to program more than just one device (or family of devices). BPM developed the first socket adapters, which are now used by all off-line device programmers.

Universal Hardware/Software 

Each device has specific programming parameters. It is not just a matter of sending an electrical signal to a specific pin—each device requires a unique algorithm to ensure it is programmed correctly. 

For instance, for a device programmer to support a NAND flash device, two algorithms are needed. The first is the conventional device programming algorithm as specified by the semiconductor manufacturer. The second is the BBM algorithm. The BBM algorithm is a user-selectable software module that interfaces with the device programming algorithm. Its implementation depends upon the target system, not just the NAND device. The challenge is in obtaining a well-defined BBM algorithm specification. See White Paper Here.

Algos “translate” the data into a specific pattern based on the specs from the semi-house. It also sends the correct electrical signal to the correct pin. See Signal Integrity Article Here.

In 1996, BPM introduced the 4100, the first universal fine-pitch automated pick-and-place programming system. Finally, there was a solution to program, at scale, a variety of devices. Again, prior to the 4100, pick-and-place programmers could only program-specific families of devices.

Fast-forward to Today

BPM Microsystems pioneered universal device programming, but nowadays, most device programming solutions are “universal,” right? While it’s true that the days of single-use programmers (except for some extremely high-volume machines) died 25 years ago, that doesn’t mean that all “universal” programmers are truly universal.

Take, for instance, Data I/O. They make automated and manual device programmers in the US and China; they promote their programmers as “universal,” but that depends on your device programming requirements. Data I/O uses two different programming site technologies. Their FlashCORE III sites were developed in 2009; their newer LumenX sites came out in 2016. Let’s say you have a mix of eMMC, MCU, and EPROM devices to program. Their “universal” solution would require two sets of sites; LumenX sites for faster programming with eMMC devices and FlashCORE III to program the others. Are they, in fact, “universal?” Sounds like “not really.”

BPM’s 9th Generation Technology launched in 2016. 9th Gen sites with Vector Engine™ Co-Processor accelerate flash memory waveforms for programming near the theoretical limits of silicon design. The faster the device, the faster it’s programmed. With data transfer rates to 50 Gb per second, and verify rates up to 200 MB per second, 9th Gen sites offer the industry’s fastest times with even more capacity compared to other systems in its class. This is up to 9 times faster than competing “universal” programmers, offering the Largest Memory Support in the industry―256 GB, upgradeable to 512 GB. Plus, by downloading image files up to 25 MB per second to all programmers simultaneously, the system rapidly produces devices at maximum achievable throughput.

PSV5000 vs BPM 3928

Comparing the two platforms (Data I/O vs. BPM) with similar specifications in a typical configuration, a Data I/O PSV5000 would require two FlashCORE III sites, plus one LumenX site (total of 3), while a BPM 3928 would require two 9th Gen sites (which is included in the basic machine configuration). The BPM 3928 is upgradable to five more sites (a total of seven); The PSV5000 can add three additional sites for a total of 6 sites. But only three or four could be used at a time (depending on which site technology is added). The BPM solution is much less expensive because it is actually universal, and allows you to utilize all the connected sites simultaneously.

One could argue that the PSV5000 could be set up with six FlashCORE III sites or six LumenX sites (for a total of 12 sites)– you would only have to switch out the sites when you set-up for the specific job. Realistically, that’s not a viable option. The price for just the sites would cost more than double the original PSV5000 and would take many additional hours to do each change-over.

In the case of a site failure (it happens), with BPM’s universal sites and fault-tolerant hardware/software, the “dead” site can be automatically bypassed; thus, production still goes on (albeit, at reduced capacity). Recall the mix of eMMC, MCU, and EPROM devices to program. Their “universal” solution would require two sets of sites; LumenX sites for faster programming with eMMC devices and FlashCORE III to program the others. if the single LumenX site goes out on the PSV5000, your programming on the LumenX site is stopped until you can get the site replaced or repaired.

It’s always a good idea to plan for failures (they happen) by having a spare site available on-site (all APS manufacturers can provide you with spare kits). With BPM’s single-site technology, you only need one spare, which saves thousands of dollars. When getting a quote on an APS, make sure to ask for spares (and if you’ll need just one or two).

Universal could also mean “future-proof.” Knowing that 9th Gen sites can program legacy devices as well as the newest flash devices means your investment is not soon obsolete. BPM has customers that are still programming on ten- to 15-year-old (and older) 8th and 7th Gen machines. BPM continues to provide support for these legacy systems, and plan to for the foreseeable future.

Sockets

Socket modules and socket cards are the electro-mechanical interfaces between the programmable semiconductor device and the programmer. It’s one of the secrets to BPM’s Universal Programming. The robust design is ideal for manufacturing and design environments where high signal integrity and reliable performance are critical.

The sophisticated technology of BPM Microsystems’ active circuitry delivers the cleanest waveform signals to the device by eliminating noise, ground bounce, and overshoot, which allows for the most reliable vector testing available to ensure the highest quality and overall yield.

Signal Integrity designed into the socket card allows for high quality/high-speed communication between the programmer and the device under test (DUT). High-quality communication allows for high-speed data transfer.  How?

  • Multiple layer PCBs
  • Ground plane
  • Controlled impedance
  • Active circuit
  • High-quality, gold-plated Samtec connectors on all 9th Gen Sites and Sockets


BPM Microsystems offers a substantial number of socket modules and socket cards to support thousands of devices from over 218 semiconductor manufacturers. Currently, there are over 39,000 devices supported on 9th Gen (three times greater than BPM’s nearest competitor).

New socket module and socket card designs are continuously added and can be requested to meet your programming needs (you can request support here).

“Universal” also means many of our older sockets (7th and 8th Gen) work with 9th Gen sites. When you upgrade to 9th Gen’s much faster programming protocol, it’s possible you can use your existing sockets (see if your socket is compatible here).

Universal Device programming with 9th Gen

First Article to automated device production, use the same software, same sockets, same algos, same results.

Finally, universal means using the same software (BPWin), and sockets/algos on all 9th Gen programmers, from manual to automated (the only additional thing needed on the automated programmers are pressure plates which are inexpensive and last forever). No matter if it’s the first article to final production, nearly everything is compatible.

Conclusion

BPM’s universal device programmers are truly universal, in every sense of the word. In an uncertain world during uncertain times, it’s comforting to know a BPM solution will deliver years of reliably programmed devices, and that “universal” actually means “universal.”

How to Program In-House, Part II

How to Program In-House, Part II

How to Program In-House, Part II

Previously, we discussed how to use Device Search and Device Request. In this article, first, we’ll cover Benchmarking to determine which system you need to program in-house. Next, we’ll do a capacity analysis. Finally, we’ll do a real-world ROI (return on investment) calculation (hint: Device programming in-house starts making money in weeks, not years).

Example of Programming In-House

In reviewing our example, we’ve got two programmable devices on our board: a TSOP and a QFP programmable device. The TSOP has 1200 Kilobytes of data; the QFP has 1 Gigabyte (which makes in-line or on-board programming a bad option).

6 Ways to Program Devices (and Why Off-Line Programming may be an option)

Our initial device search revealed one of the devices is supported (the QFP), but the other is not (the TSOP). If we’re early in the process, it’s possible to find a similar device that is supported. If not, you can always request support for the device. Depending on the complexity (is it in a “family” of devices that have support, does it require a custom socket, etc.) BPM will provide a support proposal with cost and lead time.

Device Semi House Code Socket Qty/Year File Size Bench-mark
QFP Renesas

R5F100GXXX

FVE4ASMR48LQFPG 1,200,000 1 GB ?
TSOP Renesas HN58VXXXX Custom Dev 1,200,000 1 MB ?

Now that we have an idea of support, the next step is to determine which system is the best fit.

APS Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb regarding when a programming project is a good candidate for Automated Programming is if quantities are in excess of 50,000 parts per year (there are some other things that could factor in, such as laser marking, 3D inspection, etc.). In our example, we will need 2.4 million devices per year, so that makes Automated Programming an easy choice.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is what determines how the system is configured. Typically, the longer the programming times, the more sites needed. You start with the number of programmed devices needed (in our example it’s about 3 million per year). BPM can provide the programming time for the device. After that, it’s just math…

Device Device SKU Socket Qty/Year File Size Benchmark Recommended Sites/Sockets
QFP R5F100GXXX FVE4ASMR48LQFPG 1.2 mil 1 GB 150 seconds ?
TSOP HN58VXXXX Custom Dev 1.2 mil 1 MB 24 seconds ?

The QFP socket is a four-up (each site can program 4 devices concurrently) but has a long programming time (150 seconds in our example). BPM utilizes concurrent programming, so it can load fast and start programming as soon as the site is filled. Each site can program approximately 96 devices per hour ( 4 sockets per site x 3600 seconds / 150).

in addition, the 3928 Automated Programmer can be configured with up to 7 programming sites with up to 28 sockets.

For instance, if we max out the 3928 Automated Programmer (7 sites, 28 sockets) we can get approximately 650 Devices Per Hour (DPH), or approximately 4550 per shift (650 x 7 hours). Dividing that out into the total quantity of devices needed, we would need 1846 hours for just that one device.

Don’t forget, we have another device we need to program as well. The benchmark is 24 seconds; we can get by with just 3 sites (12 sockets) which will yield approximately 1200 devices per hour. The TSOP device requires about 1000 hours to produce.

  • Total Volume per year: 2,400,000
  • Theoretical Machine Hours Required: 2,846
  • Utilization Rate: 85%
  • Estimated Machine Hours Required: 3348
  • Changeover Hours per year: 88.4
  • Total Shift Hours Required: 3437
  • Shift Hours Available per year*: 3640
  • Equipment Shift Capacity: 94%

*2 Shifts per day

Above all, BPM Automated Programmers are built to run 3 shifts at a utilization rate of 85% (conservatively). The 2-shift scenario is tight (94% utilization rate) but doable. You can instantly add a third more capacity by adding a third shift or authorize some overtime to make up any shorts.

Device Device SKU Socket Qty/Year File Size Benchmark Recommended Sites/Sockets
QFP R5F100GXXX FVE4ASMR48LQFPG 1.2 mil 1 GB 150 seconds 7 sites (28 sockets)
TSOP HN58VXXXX Custom Dev 1.2 mil 1 MB 24 seconds 3 sites (12 sockets)

In developing the system configuration, your line needs the devices on a tape/reel, so you’ll need a tape-out peripheral.

Total system:

  • 3928 with 7 sites
  • TM-50 Tape Out
  • Tape Input (2 sizes)
  • 28 FX4ASMR100QFPZR Sockets
  • 12 New Dev Sockets for TSOP HN58VXXXX
  • Full spares kit (includes spare site)

Pays for itself

To determine the total cost, please contact us. You would also need to factor in replacements for sockets (regular sockets are rated for approximately 5-10K total insertions; many of our sockets modules include a receptacle that allows you to replace the consumable socket as required on the board).

ROI Calculator

In this real-world example, we’ll break down the numbers to bring device programming in-house:

COST PER DEVICE ANALYSIS 3928 System
Shift Hours per Day 16
Theoretical Machine Hours Required 2,846
Machine Utilization Rate 85%
Changeover Hours 88
Estimated Total Burdened Hours Required 3,436
Years Amortized 5
Burdened Labor Rate $15.00
Cost per Device (Outsourced) $0.25
Total Solution Price $225,000
Devices per year 2,400,000
Estimated Devices per hour 698
Total cost per year $96,540
Estimated Consumable Cost Per Device $0.015
Cost per device = Equipment, Overhead + Consumables $0.055
Cost Per 1000 $55.23
Cost per 1,000,000 $55,225
   
SYSTEM PAYBACK CALCULATION 3928 System
Total Solution Price $225,000
Device per day (260 days/yr) 9,231
Savings per device $0.195
Savings per day $1,797.92
Days to payback 125.1

Payback in About 4 Months

Therefore, it would take a little under 18 weeks (not years) to make device programming in-house a profit center! Once paid for, it’s almost all profit. Many customers use these systems for 10+ years and achieve 5-10X ROI.

We can help!

In conclusion, we provide an ROI Calculation based on your configuration. Depending on your requirements, you can start producing positive ROI in months, not years. Contact us for a Business Review.

Some variables to factor in:

  • Security of not having your Intellectual Property possibly compromised
  • Speed of making updates
  • Reduced time-to-market
  • Quality Control
  • Faster, reduced inventory turns
  • Just-in-time productions supplies what the line needs today
  • Ability to adjust production by adding shifts and/or outsourcing
  • Faster, more accurate set-ups on BPM automated equipment (see WhisperTeach™);
  • See article on OEE here.

Intrigued?

Learn more about BPM Microsystem's Automated Programming Systems Deliver ROI

Disaster Recovery for a Modern Manufacturing Operation

Disaster Recovery for a Modern Manufacturing Operation

Some things to consider in a Disaster Plan

See Disaster Recovery Article

  • Hardware/Software contracts are up-to-date
    • Ensures the fastest response in line-down situations
    • Spares are on-site and/or available overnight
  • Schedule deliveries for consumables, especially sockets
    • Sockets are consumable items
    • The schedule ensures they are manufactured/delivered based on your requirements
    • Lead time to build a socket can vary, from days to weeks
  • Multiple prequalified vendors
  • Pre-qualify First Articles ahead of time from your partner supplier
  • Negotiate price per device before the disaster takes place

Some problems are good. It’s important for the modern manufacturing operation to prepare for the worst, and the best. There are lots of things that can go wrong. Add this to the list: what happens if one or more people on your line come down with Covid-19? You still have parts to program and production lines to supply. And as things rebound, what will you do if you are hit with an increase in orders? You (no doubt) have built-in capacity; but what if it doubles, or triples (or more)? BPM Microsystems builds systems and accessories that make it easy and cost-effective to make device programming a viable (and profitable) option in-house. Their line of programmers is universal, meaning they utilize the same software and accessories, from the smallest to the largest systems. From the first article (the initial first approved programmed device) to production, the only difference is throughput. Manual systems are perfect for starting out and/or smaller lot sizes (up to 50,000 parts per year). They also come in handy to augment the automated system’s capacity, or for programming short-run parts. BPM’s automated systems are the fastest and easiest to set-up of any programming systems. They are made for programming large data devices, such as eMMC HS400, NAND, NOR, and Serial Flash devices, and other nonvolatile memory devices such as MCUs, PLDs, and FPGAs. High-speed signals support devices up to 200 Mhz and the latest eMMC HS400 modes with data transfer rates of 2.5 nanoseconds per byte. With data transfer rates to 50 Gb per second, and verify rates up to 200 MB per second, BPM’s Automated Systems offer the industry’s fastest times. This is up to 9 times faster than competing “universal” programmers, offering the Largest Memory Support in the industry―256 GB, upgradeable to 512 GB. 

WhisperTeach™ & CyberOptics™

WhisperTeach™ is patented hardware/software that automates the critical z-height measurement, which reduces set-up times by as much as 83%. More importantly, it improves yield and job performance compared to manual teaching methods. CyberOptics™ vision component auto measure delivers on-the-fly alignment to maximum device reliability and throughput.

Learn more about WhisperTeach™ auto Z-height teach system here

Add Capacity

Adding capacity is fairly straightforward. The first option is to add overtime and/or add shifts. BPM’s set-ups don’t require extensive training, so quality and throughput won’t decline after 5 pm. Next, add programming sites and sockets to existing workflows. If utilizing manual systems, additional programmers can be “daisy-chained” to a single workstation (up to 12 total). For automated programmers, additional sites may be added. Each site has the ability to add up to 4 additional sockets (a socket is the electrical interface of hardware/software to program a specific device). Adding sites can double, triple (up to 10X) capacity, depending on which system is used. BPM’s universal sites mean you don’t need two different site technologies for programming different classes of devices. BPM supports more than triple the number of devices as their nearest competitor (36K vs 12K). Some BPM systems, such as the low-cost 3901 or 8th Generation automated systems, can be upgraded for higher throughput, with more devices per hour and/or additional sites or peripherals. When you experience a line-down (for whatever reason), you need solutions that allow you to quickly shift production without skipping a beat. For programming devices, contact your nearest programming center, such as Arrow, Avnet, or A&J. The set-up files can be securely transmitted; if they don’t have the sockets, simply overnight the sockets used on your production. Utilizing programming centers is another way to balance out your work-flow; when a temporary need overwhelms your workflow, you can outsource for extra capacity.

Conclusion

It’s not a matter of “if” things go wrong. It’s a mathematical certainty. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s prudent to be ready for just about anything. With a little forward planning, you should keep production moving. BPM’s systems are built to grow with your business; they have programmers that are still operating daily after 15 years or more. Contact your preferred Programming Center and BPM Microsystems to develop a disaster plan in advance.

See “Market Forces” Article here

How to Program In-House, Part I

How to Program In-House, Part I

How to Program In-House, Part I

Everything starts with a device (probably more than just one). Actually, it starts with a “something” you sell that has one or more programmable devices. (We used to say that includes just about anything except a mattress, but there are lots of mattresses nowadays with advanced features). All examples are for instructional purposes only.

In our example, we’ve got two programmable devices on our board: a TSOP and a QFP programmable device. The TSOP has 1200 Kilobytes of data; the QFP has 1 Gigabyte (which makes in-line or on-board programming a bad option).

6 Ways to Program Devices (and Why Off-Line Programming may be an option)

Power Tip: If you are in the development stage of a project, use Device Search to see if there is already a programming solution for a device. At the development stage, you could possibly substitute a similar device that has support, saving time and money. New development can be expensive, so avoid it if possible

Device Semi House Code Qty/Year File Size Benchmark
QFP Renesas R5F100GXXX 1,200,000 1 Gigs ?
TSOP Renesas HN58VXXXX 1,200,000 1 MB ?

The next step is to use Device Search

Click on the Device Search link at the top of the BPM webpage. Search for the first device.

Click Search

One or more search results will be displayed. If no search results come up, try simplifying your search query. If that returns no results, you can request Device Support.

When you click the link, you’ll see the device parameters; towards the bottom are options for Automated Programmers, Manual Programmers, and sometimes Engineering Programmers (Engineering programmers are typically for older BPM programmers).

A good rule of thumb regarding when a programming project is a good candidate for Automated Programming is if quantities are in excess of 50,000 parts per year (there are some other things that could factor in, such as laser marking, 3D inspection, etc.). In our example, we will need about 3 million devices per year, so that makes Automated Programming a no-brainer.

The socket specific to your device will be listed in the left column, and are sorted by performance, with top-performing sockets towards the top. In our example, we’ll select FVE4ASMR48LQFPG

When you click on the top socket, you’ll get more specs on that socket. To get a quote, just click on the “Request for Quote” link.

Some of the fields will auto-fill; you will need to let us know the type of programmer you have (or which generation you are looking to get).

Once you know which socket is required to program your first device, you can also search to see if the socket is available for purchase on-line. Click on the “hour glass” symbol next to the “Get Quote” button in the Navigation Bar

Type in the search term and hit “enter”

If it’s available, and you are in North America, you can place your order with a credit card or purchase order.

 

Device Request

If your initial search for a socket doesn’t return a result, you can simplify your search query (that often works); if you still don’t get a “hit” don’t fret– use Device Request.

You’ll need a BPM Connect login. For more info on that, please view the video (below). If you like, you can skip ahead to about 5:30…

Device Search & Device Support Video

A short video on Device Search (beginning), How to order on-line (starts about 4:10), How to request Device Support (starts about 5:30)