Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fairchild changes sampling policy

After 39 years as a happy Fairchild customer, having even been a franchised distributor at one stage, I went to their website today after mentioning a new I2C buffer from them. I am not sure when I last needed samples from them but it wasn't recently so I haven't been abusing the system. That didn't matter, my application has been REJECTED and I find that Canada is now in Europe because I had to contact EUROPE sales office.

Sorry Fairchild, after 39 loyal years you just blew it. Sadly the company that fostered such talent as Bob Widlar, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Frederico Faggin seems to have some sort of problems with North American designers.

I2C alive and well!

For many years I2C - the "Inter Integrated circuit Communications" bus has been a staple part of my design diet. For many years Philips/NXP, Analog Devices and TI have provided a nice array of general purpose parts and many specialised devices came with I2C interface.

All went along nicely and quietly for years. But just recently things have changed! Everybody seems to be getting onto the bandwagon. First, the PC world was blessed with SMbus - based on I2C and then we are off. Now there are several new control/supervisory standards based on I2C, ( PMbus for power management, IPMB for chassis management) and with NXP introducing high speed extensions it has all come back into play!

SO how do we make it all work? For starters the old I2C with soft pull-ups just doesn't cut it anymore, the P82B715 and P82B96 from NXP are fine, but they are getting dated and are not as flexible as we might need. SO new things were needed, a search uncovered that Linear Technology had introduced some new parts that offer us some more. And just today I found out that Fairchild have entered the race with this device.

But nothing really satisfied hte needs I had until a colleague pointed out Hendon Semiconductor. Hendon, I thought? Now I know a couple of Hendons, and I was a little surprised when I found that this Hendon is the one in Australia. Then it dawned on me. For many years Philips had run a very successful hybrid plant at Hendon - and this has morphed into Hendon Semiconductor. And their specialty? I2C and bus buffers! In fact they have a range of about 10 parts either announced or upcoming which will provide a match for many applications. A visit to their specialist site at busbuffer.com is well worth a few minutes.

DISCLAIMER: I have no ties with Hendon other than being a very happy user. Their US office have been very helpful and if you look carefully you will see my LEDuino product uses the IES5501.