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Part Selection


  • A rough design concept
  • Design building blocks (optional)


  • Component research tools
  • Hardware community

Next Step:

Once you’ve discovered a couple of building blocks, or at least an understanding of what has been tried before, you’re ready to move on to selecting your keystone components.

You will probably have noticed that a couple of parts seemed to show up in most of the designs you looked at. Or have stumbled across a really great piece of silicon for solving the particular problem you’re trying to solve. Whatever the case your job now is to take those little flashes of inspiration you got discovering the space around you problem and use them to research silicon chips.

It’s common for your idea to strongly dictate the chips you choose as the keystones for your design. For example, I used to build very sophisticated telecommunications hardware and we knew that we needed silicon to handle the networking, silicon to handle the processing, and silicon to handle the interfaces. We had a cache of reference designs related to our field and the search for keystone components was a big matching problem where we tried to fit all the parts together.

You will spend most of your search on silicon fabricator and distributor websites. You’ll probably understand enough about the chip you need to do parametric searches. And you will probably spend a bunch of time reading datasheets. Think of these datasheets as the encyclopaedia entry for a given part. They tell you everything you could ever want to know about it. This is how you figure out what kind of power a chip needs, and which language it uses to talk to other chips.

As you begin to choose your keystone components you will get pushed into white-boarding and block diagramming your design. At this point you can expect to begin rapidly bouncing between all stages of ideation.

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