May 14, 2010

From sand to circuits
Intel, thanks to Intel you are here to read this post, you are on social networking sites sharing pictures and doing lot more! It's the heart of our CPU. Wonder, how that heart is made? Let's go inside the INTEL manufacturing/processing/fabricating units and let us see what we can find over there.

SAND! the start of the wonderfully crafted technological chip starts from SAND! . I other words silicon, most abundantly available material after oxygen on earth.

"Today, silicon chips are everywhere. The task of making chips is no small feat. A modern "fab", a building where Intel makes its chips, has close to a million square feet of space and is among the most technically advanced manufacturing facilities in the world. Intel's manufacturing technology—the most advanced in the world—builds on silicon wafers, the most complex devices ever manufactured."

Silicon engines
Intel continues to add new features and functions to the tiny silicon "engines" that are at the heart of an ever expanding, increasingly connected digital world. These silicon chips are powering the Internet, enabling mobile computing, automating factories, enhancing cell phones, and enriching home entertainment.
Strained Silicon

Intel® quad-core
The most sophisticated silicon chip, a microprocessor, can contain hundreds of millions or billions of transistors interconnected by fine wires made of copper. Each transistor acts as an on/off switch, controlling the flow of electricity through the chip to send, receive and process information in a fraction of a second. Intel's microprocessors have evolved from single core processors to dual core and quad core processors. Quad core processors deliver four computing “brains” inside a single package.
Design and fabrication
Designing the schematics and masks
4004 schematics
Silicon chip manufacturing starts with design specifications that define a chip's features. The specifications include chip size, number of transistors, testing, and production factors. Intel then creates thousands of schematics, symbolic representations of the transistors and interconnections that control the flow of electricity though a chip. Physical representations, stencil-like patterns or masks are made of each layer. Computer-aided design (CAD) workstations are used to perform comprehensive simulations and tests of the chip functions. The average time to design, test, and fine tune to make a chip ready for fabrication takes hundreds of people working full time for two years.

45nm wafer
Fabrication is the process for making chips. The 'recipe' varies depending on the chip's proposed use and may require as many as three hundred steps to complete fabrication. Intel builds chips in batches on wafers in fabrication facilities or fabs. Intel uses wafers of silicon, a natural semiconductor. The wafers are sliced from 99.9999% purified silicon ingots and polished to a mirror smooth finish. A photolithographic "printing" process forms a chip's multi-layered transistors and interconnects (electrical passages) on a wafer.
130nm copper
Hundreds of identical microprocessors are created in batches on a single silicon wafer. Once all the layers are completed a computer performs a process called wafer sort, to determine nonfunctioning chips and the remaining functional chips undergo a series of tests to ensure the chip circuits meet specifications to perform as designed.
High-performance packaging
Then, the wafer is cut with a diamond saw, separating the microprocessors. Each functioning die is assembled into a package that protects the die. This package delivers critical power and electrical connections when placed directly on a computer circuit board, or other devices such as cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). Intel makes chips that have many different applications so a variety of packaging technologies are used. Intel performs reliability and electrical "tests". The chips are electrically coded, visually inspected, packaged in protective shipping material, and readied for shipment to Intel customers.
Intel® quad-core processor Intel® Core™2 Extreme processor

Technical info from :INTEL Museum