From Sand to Silicon: The Making of a Microchip | Intel copypasta

Silicon-rich sand is melted and cooled, forming a solid, which is then sliced into wafers. Once inside an Intel fab the raw wafers begin their long journey through an incredibly complex process. they’re loaded into front-opening unified pods (or FOUPs) which travel hundreds of miles along Intel’s automated super-highway going from tool to tool as processors are painstakingly built up on each wafer. The wafer first goes through a series of important steps such as photolithography ion implantation and etching that prepare it for the critical transistor formation process. Intel was the first to manufacture three-dimensional transistors, called “finfets”. Finfet construction requires first building a channel in the form of a fin. Intel has devised several innovations to overcome fundamental barriers to continue transistor scaling, one such innovation is a breakthrough fabrication method called “gate-last”. It involves building, then removing, a temporary gate in order to precisely place the dielectric material and metal gate. This allows for the gate to wrap around the fin and control the flow of electrons through the channel. Another invention moves the transistor contact directly over the active gate. To accomplish this, the gate material is recessed and then filled with insulating dielectric material to prevent the creation of a short-circuit. Next, the dielectric near the gate is etched, filled with metal, recessed, and capped to allow a novel self-aligning process that enables the high density contact geometries. Now, the dielectrics are etched selectively to expose only the desired part to connect to the first metal lines. This is done through an innovative via-etch and deposition scheme, allowing contact over the active gate to happen. Finally, dozens of layers of metal interconnect lines are added to complete the circuit. After more than a thousand of these complex steps, the wafers are finally prepared for singulation and packaging. innovative processor packaging has become a critical feature of advanced computing architecture. 2d and 3d packaging technologies are enabling new device form factors, and additional boosts in performance and energy. Efficiency testing of the final product ensures that every chip exceeds our performance and quality standards. In addition to adding more performance and features with each new processor generation, Intel’s integrated design and manufacturing capabilities have enabled humanity to innovate game-changing technologies that impact nearly every facet of modern life. Intel keeps powering the world at the same time we’re powered by you, the makers, the dreamers, the doers, the people who share in our history of making the world smarter, faster, and more connected.

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