Tech

How a CPU is made

you are about to experience a fascinating journey through the clean rooms of the semiconductor industry c integrated circuits in the making at one of Global Foundries chip factories let our experts walk you through the nano-cosmos of the atom a world that normally remains hidden from our eyes

the beginning is the circuit diagram that design centers around the globe experts collaborate to design circuit diagrams sophisticated integrated circuits like micro processors high graphics processors and wireless communications I see the next step is manufacturing the disc substrates for the micro chips are made from courts and are called

silicon wafers to make these wafers a huge crystal is drawn from purified silicon melt the result is a perfect silhouette – into which the transistors will later be fitted however impurities pose a threat to these flawless silicon crystals

our Global Foundries manufacture take extensive precautions every time they enter our dust free cleanroom the result are wafers are fabricated in an environment that is more than 100,000 times cleaner than an operating theatre completely free of dust the silicon discs arrived at the clean room here 25 wafers are packed into each hermetically sealed container and sent off on a journey that will take them through

hundreds of manufacturing steps photo lithographic techniques transfer the circuit structures to the wafers rather like slide projection the key to this whole process is a solid mastery of light yeah yeah

yeah yeah the silicon disk is spin coated with a photosensitive resist UV light transfers the circuit structure is depicted on a mask to the wafer the exposed parts of the resist are soluble and removed by a developer the transferred structures can now be used as a template the unprotected parts

of the water surface are etched away the structures of billions of small current switches are generated on each wafer tiny transistors from the photolithographic stage wafers move on to the ion implantation where the electrical properties of the transistors will be specified here the engineers make good use of one of silicones most important properties

silicon is a semiconductor which means that its conductivity can change by a high precision and placement of so-called dopant atoms first dopant atoms are injected into the silicon structures these atoms then distribute randomly in the silicon lattice at high temperatures the doping atoms become flexible and take on a fixed position in the atomic structure

the complexity of manufacturing tiny transistors requires a clean room as big as to soccer pitches people monitor the complex processes automated manufacturing itself always takes place within hermetically sealed production lines yeah copper dominates the next process step the finest interconnect wires link up

billions of separate transistors to form integrated circuits yeah yeah before that can happen however cleaning is essential for wafers as particles lurk at every stage in the manufacturing process before the copper is poured into the trenches for the interconnects a barrier

layer is applied it helps to avoid short circuits and guarantees reliability the trenches are then filled with copper yeah yeah finally the excess copper is ground down to the edges of the trenches this insulates each interconnect from the others

a microchip made of copper wiring established GlobalFoundries as the first company in the world to adopt copper in volume production a foundation for the state of the art multi-core processors that GlobalFoundries is introducing today in all product areas to keep us on the leading edge of the world’s chipmakers electron microscopes constantly monitor every step in the manufacturing process down to the atomic

structures of each individual transistor and in two months the wafer is ready huge integrated circuits consisting of conductors with a length of multiple kilometers link up 100 billion transistors on numerous levels and that in a space no larger than a fingernail

GlobalFoundries the first truly global semiconductor foundry located in the USA and Germany have one in Dresden and the future fab to in malta New York together they’ll be two of the most advanced chip factories on earth and a testing ground for the very latest microelectronic innovations from around the globe the last production step in microprocessor manufacturing is the packaging of the chips in preparation for this step in silver pellets are

applied on the wafer they will link the chip to the frame via the finest saw blades the chips are cut off the wafer the flip-chip method is used to bond the chip to the frame which is sealed with a cover

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Rauf Saddique

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