Popularity Contests Can Be Helpful

Popularity Contests Can Be Helpful


Let’s say that you’re at the beginning of your design–not even a schematic–but a block diagram drawn out on scratch paper. The blocks explain the subsystem interaction or features that you want to deliver. At this point, you probably only have a general idea of what electronics will comprise those subsystems. It would be great to go to the engineer at the desk next to you and ask, “What are you using to do this?”

Now imagine if there were a million desks and you could tell, at a glance, what all those designers were using. That’s the essence of the parts.io popularity ranking.

When you look for a component in parts.io, the search results are ranked in order of popularity: the part most searched for is the part that bubbles up to the top of the search ranking. Where does that popularity come from though?

The popularity index is a value that’s compiled not just from parts.io, but from across the full SupplyFrame network. When a user searches for a part on FindChips, GoPart, OEMsTrade and a range of partner sites, it contributes to helping you find the most often used parts. We collect those searches, anonymize them and aggregate the resulting data to produce a stream of parts that over five million users of the SupplyFrame network are using. For things like new components, as users search for a particular part more frequently, it’s popularity will increase over time. You’ll have a better idea of which components are being used by the community when you’re designing a circuit.

Power Circuit Category

You’re looking at your block diagram and thinking, “OK… I need some clean power, probably 3.3V. How do I generate a regulated 3V3 supply for my circuit?” On the first page of the parts.io homepage, you can look at the categories available and right in the first line is a link to “power circuits“. Clicking into that brings you to the sub-categories, and the very first one is “linear regulators” — you’re already on the right path. Accessing the linear regulators sub-category immediately provides you with a full range of parametric values you can use to fine tune your search. There may be some values you need to check off by default (parts that are in stock, parts in the active portion of the lifecycle); however, from the first time you look at a category, all of the results are listed in order of user popularity. In this example, the “winner” is the LM317T (though the first listed result can change over time). The LM317T datasheet even provides reference schematics so you can take this popular component and rapidly integrate it into your project.

Popularity Ranked Search Results

Here are a some other sample searches:

Part popularity is a powerful tool that you can use to leverage the actions of many to discover components that are unfamiliar. This is especially true when you begin filtering via parameters. Our data shows that search popularity is directly related to higher sales of that component, and more sales translates into greater support from the manufacture​s.  When venturing into the uncertain waters of new classes and categories of components, popularity ranking will deliver the most searched for components; feel confident knowing the part you buy is your solution for the long term. This is also reflected in the Risk Rank, as higher popularity is correlated with lower risk: if users keep searching for it, then users keep buying it and manufacturers are likely to keep making it.

Part popularity is yet another tool we provide to help you discover and decide on the best part for your design.  You should never make a decision on a component solely because others are using it, but sometimes, popularity contests can be helpful.

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