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OCTOBER 2019        TAP TIMES          -10-

                      Casebook (from 9)

        catastrophes, such as fire or flood, because
        multiple vendors quickly stepped in to fill a
        void in the supply chain.

        QML single source
        In this case, however, there is only a sin-
        gle-source  subcontractor  on  the  Qualified
        Manufacturing List (QML) providing copper-
        wrapped solder column attachment servic-
        es for the entire FPGA industry.

        The defense industry could be at risk if a
        single-source supplier were to be suddenly                          Copper-wrapped wolder column
        compromised and cease operations.
                                                                ing copper-wrapped solder columns.
        What  if  said  single-source  supplier  were           The cost for the world’s FPGA makers to
        acquired and the acquirer raises prices or
        moves production off-shore? One can argue               remedy the risk is reasonable when com-
                                                                pared to waiting for a disaster to strike,
        that an acquisition under such circumstanc-
        es could be considered  an  assault  on the
        FPGA and defense community. Far fetched?
                                                                Eight companies
                                                                Nine of the world’s FPGA makers are
                                                                owned by eight companies: BAE Systems,
        Military requirements                                   Cobham, Infineon (recently acquiring Cy-
        Estimates are that it takes 24-months for
        an alternative subcontractor to undergo the             press), Honeywell, Microchip, Teledyne,
                                                                Texas Instruments and Xilinx. Only BAE
        rigorous process of attaining QML status to
        provide services to attach columns to FPGA              does not rely exclusively on the attach-
                                                                ment of copper wrapped columns.
        packages  according  to MIL-PRF-38534  re-
                                                                A disruption in FPGA production has al-
                                                                ready occurred. In 2013,  IBM, the origi-
        A  prolonged production line shutdown of
        FPGA devices could trigger a national secu-             nal inventor of solder columns, sent shock
                                                                waves across the aerospace and defense
        rity emergency.
                                                                industries after announcing its intention
                                                                to exit ceramic column grid array (CCGA)
        Non-delivery of mission-critical FPGA devic-            FPGA production.
        es, due to a lack of solder column attach-
        ment services, could impact several prime               After shutting down, IBM licensed the col-
        contractors in the military sector.
                                                                umn-packaging technology to Silicon Turn-
                                                                key Solutions (now owned by Micross).
        Perhaps the producers of FPGA devices
        may not be aware of the risk of depending
        on a monopoly subcontractor for attach-                 IBM’s entire CCGA production line was
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