pricing on CPU in new HP calcs (Sunplus SPL...)


I lost track of the thread position, but just saw some speculation on the pricing of Sunplus chips in HP calcs.

This is a fairly low-tech chip (slow, prob not a fine-line-size chip (thus maybe .85? 1.0? u), without tricky analog features, and not requiring an expensive reticle, or any features that can affect yield (i.e., flash ROM). Also the fabs involved may be old and already paid for.

Plus the chips are prob bought as 'bare die' and are mounted to PCBs with "COB" (chip on board) technology. Some dimly remembered numbers for small-pin-pitch packages are that these run around 1/2cent (USD) per pin for pin + pkg.

So for a large run of chips (w/given ROM masking) Kinpo is prob paying Sunplus a buck or less. Even $0.70/chip wouldn't be surprising, really, given competition and reduced state of semiconductor market.

HP prob buys HP9x calcs in bulk for $3-$9 ea (9S, 9G).

For a MODERN semiconductor process, say 0.23u or 0.18u without special RF/analog considerations, 1 square mm of silicon probably *costs* less than $0.40 to make, on average, including corp overhead.

Many smal/midsize Asian semiconductor firms/fabs do designs at/near cost and make money on the 'float' of the money paid by the customer. In essence, they are financial organizations, not chip companies!

Bill Wiese
San Jose, CA


Your prices look about right.

We make mixed analogue + digital devices and anything bigger than 0.5um technology is getting a bit out of date!

For smaller geometries the mask costs are very high and need production of 100k+ chips per year to justify. (An estimate)

Asian companies (excluding Japan) in our end of the market tend to be much better than Europeans / US at making user equipment but the US / Europe seems better at designing it, but this may be sector dependent.


Most low end single chip micros sell for under a dollar in quantity. There are many under 50 cents in million plus quantities.


WalMart sells a "LeWorld" four banger plus square root, percent and memory, battery and solar, for $1.00 every day. Unless they are doing this as a community service, they must be buying the calculator for about 30ยข. They charge $2 for a replacement battery!

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