GÖPEL electronic designs, produces and sells professional Boundary Scan test equipment, as well as image processing systems and customized functional test systems. Objective of the Application Experiment (AE) was the introduction of Chip On Board technology (COB) together with VHDL as design language and approach for a highly complex FPGA into GÖPEL electronics business. Within the scope of the experiment the existing Boundary Scan controller on PC/AT basis was transformed into a PCMCIA based product. The existing Boundary Scan controller was developed using packaged chips and a FPGA designed by a design company. Due to board dimensions and maximum component height it was not possible to use this product in portable personal computers such as notebooks and laptops. The new technology (COB) in connection with smallest possible structures on PCBs allowed the reduction of the size of both components and board by about 80% compared to the former product. Thus, the new product was produced as a PCMCIA Card.
The capability of the product to be used now in portable computers opens new markets since it is possible to realize very small PC based Boundary Scan test systems for service and maintenance purposes. The new COB based Boundary Scan controller for PCMCIA was first presented at the International Test Conference 1997 in Washington, D.C., and PRODUCTRONICA 97 in Munich.
During the AE, GÖPEL introduced COB, a difficult and previously unknown technology to them, into their business. The extensive commands, including the selection of required equipment and training of the manufacturing staff were learnt by the management and development engineers. Furthermore, the FPGA designers learnt the description and simulation of a given digital circuit using VHDL, the implementation of this into a highly complex FPGA (25000 gates) and the possible interface for later migration to an ASIC.
During this AE unforeseen problems had to be solved which resulted in many lessons being learnt. These lessons were mainly related to problems with the dies e.g. delivery times, availability, amount, prices, manufacturing and implementation
The planned duration of the AE was 12 months from 1 November 1996 to 31 October 1997 and the project was finished in time. However, due to the problems which occurred during the AE the real costs exceeded planned costs of 130.000 ECU by 10%. The payback period will be approximately 1,5 years and, assuming a 3 year product life, the ROI will be around 400%.