Autopsy of Pentium III, the photos under the microscope
Most of us kept the ordinary microprocessor in hands, but hardly anyone had an idea to cut and examine it under a scanning electronic microscope. This is precisely what made the Swedish teacher Kristian Storm to demonstrate to students the device of microchip. Photos are stunning: the quality allows us to consider the individual layers of the processor. Apparently, Soviet engineers did the same procedure that took apart and copied the western high technology. Much the same is being done now to examine the products of competitors.
All photos are clickable and available in high definition.
Kristian Storm used a processor P-III. First, he had to remove the chip itself directly from the plastic case (blue), which is located in the center of the circuit board (green).
We can see it on the back of the circuit board, it is necessary to output leads from a microprocessor - from each lead on the processor goes a signal to a separate pin on the board.
First, Kristian thought that he would be able to separate the microprocessor using heating, but it did not work, except nasty smell. Then he had to cut out the appropriate section. He pulled out the chip using forceps and a scalpel, slightly damaged it in the process (Anyway, Kristian was going to break up the processor).
Here is what happened as a result. On the reverse side of the chip were visible leads under broken blue case on the chip. Previously, they were connected to the pins on the board.
Here is a chip that is cleaned out of plastic.
Now the interesting part begins: he uses the conventional optical microscope. Under the microscope, we see a fragment of the microprocessor with the same leads.
If we look closer, we can distinguish a structure inside holes for the leads.
The processor consists of multiple metal layers on top of each other; they clearly can be seen through the holes for the pins.
Changing the focus on the microscope, we can consider these layers in turn. Here is the top layer.
This is a middle layer.
This is a bottom layer.
Since the optical microscope does not provide the necessary details, Kristian decided to use a scanning electronic microscope. In order to see the core of the processor, he broke it into pieces and began to examine the breaking edges. Here we can see a series of consecutive pictures with gradually increasing resolution.
The chip has been turned upside down, so at the top are leads that were previously attached to the circuit board. At first, we did not see anything. Light material between the leads, perhaps a polymer to fill the space.
Further, the outlines of a structure begin showing up.
Visible layers clearly become apparent after zooming. We can even count the number: six.
The thickness of the bottom metal layer is about 200-250 nm. Processor P-III was made under technology process of 250 nm, and later - 180 nm, so that the bottom layer is the last layer with transistors, a further zooming will not show any new elements.
Here is a better picture.
Last photo has taken on the same scale from the top. At one point, a case accidentally was broken, so that the internal structure was uncover.
There are several metal layers on each other, but Kristian could not do the cross-sectional pictures and get directly to the transistors (bottom layer), because he does not know how carefully remove layers from the chip.
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