Article about nVidia

13.10.2007 19:43

There's an interesting article with some pictures about facilities at nVidia headquarters at FiringSquad.

It's surprising what extensive equipment they have even though they do not manufacture chips themselves. Granted they are one of the leading specialized integrated circuit design companies but I didn't know that companies that outsource their chip fabrication do chip testing at the level that is claimed by this article - chemical composition analysis, checking transistor level failures, etc.

They also say they are doing some things that I didn't even know are possible. Like changing on chip connections with gallium ion beam to diagnose a chip failure. Considering that a completely manufactured chip is probably impossible to get undamaged from its package I guess they are only doing this for diagnosing and fixing problems with prototypes they get on a bare die from the fab. However even this is impressive. Does this mean that transistor level simulation tools aren't accurate enough to model some failures on their chips?

I also wonder where they get their failed chips from to analyze. I doubt they do this kind of in-depth checking on every failed card they get in their mail. My guess would be only from trusted sources like other graphic card manufactures that use their chips.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life


Decapsulating plastic (epoxy) ICs is quite easy by chemical means. Just some strong water free acids will do fine as they don't corrode metals (much). A good example is 99% nitric acid with some fuming sulfuric acid (containing free anhydride SO3) to keep it anhydrous. Just be careful :) Oh, and it's a good idea to keep etching in minimum by first abrading the most.

Posted by vesa

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