IEEE Trans on Components and Packaging Technologies, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 886-888, December 2007.

Software Obsolescence – Complicating the Part and Technology Obsolescence
Management Problem

Peter Sandborn
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


As a result of the rapid growth of the electronics industry, many of the electronic parts in products have a procurement life cycle that is significantly shorter than the life cycle of the system they go into. A part becomes obsolete when it is no longer manufactured, either because demand has dropped to low enough levels that manufacturers choose not to continue to make it, or because the materials or technologies necessary to produce it are no longer available. The military refers to this situation as Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS). Avionics and military systems may encounter obsolescence before being fielded and always experience obsolescence problems during their field life.
Today there are a growing number of methodologies, databases and tools that address status, forecasting, risk, mitigation and management of electronic parts obsolescence. However, the one common attribute of all the methodologies, databases and tools that are in use today, whether reactive, proactive or strategic, is that they focus exclusively on the hardware life cycle. In most complex systems, software life cycle costs (redesign, re-hosting and re-qualification) contribute as much or more to the total life cycle cost as the hardware, and the hardware and software must be concurrently sustained.

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