This is an example of an integrated circuit that has become obsolete that we have re-engineered.
The DP8573 is a real time clock chip from National Instruments. It has become steadily more expensive, and it has just had a last time buy. Unfortunately, the yield was very low and so many customers received less than they had requested. We were asked to help.
We looked at the design and decided that it could be replaced with a modern 8 pin clock chip, using the original clock xtal, with a small microcontroller converting the data into the old DP8573 format. This preserved all the control registers so that no changes needed to be made to the users circuits or software.
A circuit design was done, some code written and a prototype built:
The prototype was built on Vero board using normal through hole parts. This was fully functionally tested and worked 100%
This was then productionised and converted to surface mount components to fit neatly into the original mounting holes.
Here is the original chip and its replacement:
In this design there was space to hang the electronics off to one side, and this allowed us to use a through hole pin device which reduced cost. With surface mounting pins the new board would have been no bigger than the original.
This board is significantly cheaper than the last price for the original chip. The customer can now continue to build new boards AND repair old boards for as long as their is a market need.