UPTEK S.A Systems Innovations, designs, manufactures and markets telecommunications equipment and defence electronic equipment for a broad range of customers. The company, prior to FUSE, was using CMOS / LSI IC devices, Programmable Microcontrollers, and discrete components in its range of products. This mix of components, although allowed the company to produce highly reliable products, it limited its application in the very demanding telephone switching market, especially to customers with demands for high reliability, low maintenance cost and small device area.
The product which was improved was a Digital PCM switching telephone system and specifically its PCM Matrix part. The prior product was housed in EUROCARD-size PCB cards that were plugged into a EUROCARD 19-inch Main Frame. The Frame (Subrack) had 16 slots, each slot accommodating a single card. Thus, for a 128-line system, 2 Main Frames were needed plus another 2 Auxiliary Main Frames. Each Main Frame had a dedicated Back Plane, differing from Frame to Frame.
The objective of this experiment was to incorporate a digital ASIC into the current product replacing around 200 commercial ICs for 2048 subscriber line interconnection and, therefore, design, develop, manufacture and test a new upgraded product, in order to meet the evolving market demands. The market demands for this AE were basically coming from the defence sector, where low product volume and weight, low power consumption, increased reliability, fail safe redundancy and copy protection are very important factors, rather than impressive cost reductions. Another contributing factor to the choice of an ASIC instead of a gate programmable array (FPGA), was the prestige and companys image associated with the use of an ASIC in the high reliability defence sector, and the intense competition from companies with such advanced solutions. The extra development cost and the higher cost per unit of the ASIC solution were offset by the lowering of product cost due to the extreme hardware savings, by the increased product reliability and the resulting service cost savings, and by the application in a fail-safe conscious market.
This new ASIC, being a very powerful interface / switching element with redundancy capabilities, allowed the company to examine its application to other, unrelated to telephony markets / products. This new ASIC is also expected to increase the companys penetration in its primary and associated markets, thus promoting sales and increasing employment.
The total original budget of the application experiment was 109 KECU, and the duration was 12 months. The Pay-back Period is estimated to be 10,5 months, while the Return-Of-Investment is estimated to be 3,83 times the initial FUSE investment for a three-year period of time after the introduction of the new product in the market.