January 7th, 2013 ~ by admin

2012: Year in Review: UV EPROMs

Unusual double marked Intel HC2708. Intel used 'H' for a brief time to denote a windowed DIP package.

Unusual double marked Intel HC2708. Intel used ‘H’ for a brief time to denote a windowed DIP package.

UV-EPROMs are a technology made obsolete in an incredibly short period of time by widely available, and more flexible, Flash and EEPROM technology.  Processors evolved, DRAM and SRAM evolved, EPROMs simple ceased to exist.  There were attempts to make them faster, lower-power, or in more convenient packages, but at the end of the day (or the end of the 90’s) shining a UV light into a small round window to erase them simply became a sign of an era long passed.  That window, however, also allows for the beauty and in some cases massiveness, of their silicon dies to be seen by all, something today’s black plastic flash simply cannot do.

Here are a few of the interesting EPROMs I found in 2012 (click to enlarge)

 

AMIS5204A-7604

AMI made many custom chips for clients, as well as second sourced various designs.  This is a S5204A, a copy of the National Semiconductor MM5204.  Made in 1976 it stored 4kbits and had a ‘fast’ access time of only 750ns.  It could be fully programmed in ‘less then a minute’ and took ‘only’ 10 minutes to erase all 4096 bits.  Power draw was 750mW max, about the same as a 800MHz Intel Atom processor.

AtmelAT27C256R-55LC_600dpi

The Atmel AT27C256R-55LC was a CMOS 55ns 256kbit EPROM in a surface mount package.  Made in late 1996 it was the beginning of the end for EPROMs.

IntelC27C202-70V05-ES

Intel used some unusual packages for a few of their EPROMs.  This package was more commonly used on things like C8751s.  Here it is a C27C202-70V05 Engineering Sample.  This is a 2Mbit EPROM.

SovietK573RF5-8903

No EPROM collection is complete without at least a few examples of Soviet EPROMs.  If anything for their amazing packages.  Here a Soviet of unknown plant K573RF5 made in 1989.  This is a clone of the Intel 2716.

TITMX2532-35NL

The Soviet bloc mastered making EPROMs with plastic packages, but this never caught on in the western market.  I have never seen a production EPROM in a plastic package out side of East German/USSR.  However I did acquire a plastic TI TMX2532-35NL.  TMX denotes it as a prototype.

WSI27C256L-15-5962-8606305XA

The military and industrial markets continued to use EPROMs far longer then the commercial/consumer markets.  Cost being less of a concern then reliability.  EPROM’s had a proven track record and thus were used until Flash had proven itself.  This is a Waferscale Integration (WSi) 27C256L-15 mil spec EPROM.

February 5th, 2011 ~ by admin

Atmel Buys MHS, Again – The Twisted History of Atmel, Temic and MHS

Today Atmel purchased MHS Electronics, a French company.  Why is this interesting? Because this is not the first time Atmel has bought MHS, in one form or another.  Atmel, Matra, MHS, and Temic’s histories are rather intertwined, with mergers, acquisitions and name changes occurring frequently over the last 25 years.

A Bit of History….

Atmel 4Mbit EPROM - 1995

Atmel was founded in 1984 by George Perlegos, a former Intel employee, as a fab-less semiconductor company.  Originally Atmel designed EPROM’s and PLDs.  They were manufactured by Sanyo, which had an Intel license.  Intel, however, sued Atmel (along with Hyundai, iCT, AAS, Cypress, and Pacesetter Electronics) over EPROM patents in 1987.  The courts sided with Intel which severely hampered Atmel’s ability to make EPROM’s.  Their focus then switched to non-volatile memories, such as Flash for which they have become very well known and continue to make.  In 1989 they bought their own fab (from Honeywell) in Colorado Springs, CO and in 1993 released an 8051 (Intel licensed) with integrated Flash memory.  This catapulted Atmel into the microcontroller market that is today one of their core businesses.  In 1994 Atmel Purchased SEEQ, an EPROM and EEPROM company that Perlegos helped start in 1981.  In 1995 Atmel opened a fab in Rousset, France, thus beginning the French connection.

Temic 80C32 - 1998

Temic had its beginning in 1903 as Telefunken (Ironically a joint venture of Siemens and another company).  In 1967 AEG merged with Telefunken and in 1985 Daimler-Benz bought Telefunken-AEG and renamed it to simply AEG. The semiconductor division of AEG was then called TEMIC (TElefunken MICroelectronics).  In 1998 AEG sold TEMIC to Vishay, another automotive electronics supplier.  Vishay only had interest in the discrete and power electronics portions so immediately sold the IC portion to Atmel. This gave Atmel a Bipolar fab in Germany

Matra Harris Semiconductors SA (MHS) was created in 1979 as a joint venture between Matra, the French high technology group, and Harris Semiconductor, an American semiconductor manufacturer. In 1989, Harris withdrew from the partnership, and the name was changed to Matra MHS SA. Two years later, AEG (The electronics division of Daimler-Benz) purchased 50% of Matra and merged the unit with its TEMIC Semiconductor subsidiary. In 1998, AEG purchased the remaining shares of the company and the name was changed again, to MHS SA.

MHS 80C52 - 1988

This was part of the sale to Vishay mentioned above, which Atmel then purchased.  MHS had one CMOS fab in Nantes, France which was included in the sale

Here is where it gets complicated…

The result of all of this was Atmel now owned Temic, MHS, 2 fabs in France, one in Germany, their original fab in Colorado as well as a fab in England, and one in Texas.  Atmel needed to consolidate their fabs so in 2005 they sold the MHS fab in Nantes France to Xbybus, a French company. Xbybus ran the Nantes fab as MHS Electronics.  In 2008 Atmel sold their fab in Germany (the former TEMIC fab) to Tejas semiconductor.  This left Atmel with one fab in Colorado, and one in Rousset, France.  Labor issues at the French fab in regards to Atmel’s need to reduce production led to indefinite strikes at this fab, hampering Atmel’s work to sell it.  Finally in 2010 Atmel received approval from the French gov’t to sell the fab to LFoundry, a French company.  This marked the end of Atmel’s fab presence in France…..

Telefunken U3870M CPU (Mostek Clone) - 1986

For about 9 months…

Today, Atmel has bought MHS Electronics, and their fab in Nantes, France, a fab they owned from 1998-2005.  MHS had been having financial troubles since 2008.  An interesting end to a series of event that began over 30 years ago.

I suspect though that we have not yet heard the last of MHS, or perhaps TEMIC.

April 1st, 2009 ~ by admin

Atmel’s new Tiny AVR: a CPU that runs on a single AA battery

Most mobile electronics runs on around 3V. For example your cell phone typically used a 3.7V Li Ion battery.  For some applications this much battery is not wanted, or feasible.  A single AA battery produces 1.2-1.5Volts, but as it is used this voltage will drop.  Atmel has just released a new line of their Tiny AVR (RISC microcontrollers that can run at voltages down to 0.7V.  Internally they are a 3V design, but they include a boost converter that can boost voltages from 0.7V to 1.8V to the 3V needed by the core, as well as the 4k of flash and 64bytes of on-board EEPROM.

 

ATtiny43u

ATtiny43u

All of this, in a 20 pin package running at up to 8MHz and costing a mere $1. This is why there is a microcontroller in almost every piece of electronics.

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