July 3, 2017

Ti NE555 - real vs fake : weekend die-shot

It is easy to understand reasons to fake 80$ "audiophile-grade" opamp. But why would someone fake one of the cheapest microchips in the world?

With volumes high enough that's still decent money for a small company. It could also be an economic warfare: each fake chip sold means 7 cents less in US GDP and Ti sales.

Genuine Ti NE555D. This one is directly from distributor. You can see several mentions of Texas Instruments on the die.
I really like designs with pads in the middle of the die, it looks so elegant and efficient (when it's not reducing yield).
Die size 1034x762 µm.

First fake 555 timer marked as Ti NE555 from ebay:

Different fake 555 design marked as Ti NE555 found on ebay:
Die size 747x762 µm.

Update: microcolonel was first to realize that this G1083 die is exactly the same, as the one we've decapped as HA17555. That means our HA17555 was also fake. These fakes are getting convoluted.

Obviously, basic functionality is the same, but parameters limits and their tolerances are unknown.
If you're not reaching for the limits (like max VCC or precision) and have some luck - that might not cause issues.

Looking at these designs one can see that routing in Chinese designs is very "intense": they are squeezing every fraction of a cent in die manufacturing cost.

That not necessary means that Chinese designs are superior : in genuine analog circuits precision, tolerances and noise are much more important than die size. But there is no doubt that these Chinese designs have reached lowest possible manufacturing cost for a 555. If only have they marked it "CN555" with proper data-sheet - it would have been totally legitimate and fair product.