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Xilinx recalls Spartan-3 FPGAs

Posted: 30 Jun 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:recall? Spartan-3? FPGA? Xilinx? Dylan McGrath?

Programmable logic supplier Xilinx Inc. has issued what appears to be a sizeable recall of Spartan-3, Spartan-3E and Spartan-3L FPGAs made between early September 2005 and late April of this year, according to a posting on the company's website.

According to a Xilinx "quality alert" posted Monday (June 26), specific lots of wire-bonded plastic ball grid array (PBGA) packages sourced through a combination of suppliers may have an unspecified manufacturing package defect that presents a potential quality and reliability risk.

The recall pertains specifically to parts marked with date codes between 0537 and 0617, according to the alert.

Specific lots of wire-bonded PBGA packages were found to exhibit bond lift failures by a single customer as of June 26, according to the alert. "Reliability studies are underway to determine the impact to the lifetime of affected material," the alert reads.

The single user who reported failures reported failure rates ranging from 1 to 5 percent, according to the alert. Xilinx recommends that all unassembled affected parts be returned to Xilinx for replacement, the alert reads.

The Spartan-3 is the most advanced incarnation of Xilinx' Spartan low-cost FPGA series, which was first rolled out in 1998. As of 2005, the Spartan series represented more than 24 percent of quarterly Xilinx sales, with more than $1.3 billion in cumulative revenue, according to the company. Now based on 90nm process technology, the Spartan series has been adopted in high-volume consumer applications such as DVD players, plasma displays and HDTV systems, according to Xilinx.

A Xilinx spokesperson, responding to an EE Times inquiry about the recall, said through a statement that the company is currently assessing the impact of the quality issue and has notified customers as a matter of process.

"What we know at this point is that it impacts a limited quantity of Spartan-3 devices," said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson emphasized that the root cause is packaging/assembly, not silicon, and that only one customer has confirmed failure. Xilinx' packaging/assembly suppliers have corrected the problem, according to the spokesperson, and the company currently has ample good replacement die available to ship.

"At this point, it's too early to assess how many parts are affected and could potentially be returnedor to determine whether this issue will have a material impact on our financial statements," the Xilinx spokesperson said.

"We don't believe the quality issue is unique to Xilinx," the spokesperson said, declining to name the company's test and assembly suppliers.

In the company's most recent annual report, issued in July 2005, Xilinx states that it purchases most assembly and some testing services from Siliconware Precision Industries Ltd (SPIL) in Taiwan and from Amkor Technology Inc. in Korea and the Philippines. It is not immediately known if this situation remains the same.

The affected packages are: FT256, FG676, FG900, FG1156, FG400, FG456, FG484, and their Pb-free equivalents, FTG256, FGG676, FGG900, FGG1156, FGG400, FGG456, FGG484, of Spartan-3, Spartan-3E, and Spartan-3L families, according to the quality alert.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

Mark LaPedus contributed to this report from San Jose.

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