June 3, 2015

Flicker LED : weekend die-shot

Some might have seen candle flicker LED - their brightness is modulated randomly to mimic real candle. It is achieved by using digital die copackaged with red LED die in standard 5mm transparent case.

This design is apparently using phase difference between 2 RC oscillators as source of random data. There are multiple designs in the wild, some other apparently based on LFSR with single oscillator. More on the topic: siliconpr0n.org, cpldcpu.wordpress.com, hackaday.com.

Die size 580x476 µm, 3µm technology.

Thanks for this interesting chip to ASIP department of Gomel State University.
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March 20, 2015

Samsung SuperAMOLED : weekend die-shot

Updated March 20, 2015: Thanks to lucky(?) accident and new lens we managed to take much better photos of Samsung SuperAMOLED display:

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February 23, 2015

Nordic NRF24L01+ - real vs fake : weekend die-shot

Nordic NRF24L01+ (NRF24L01P) is a very popular 2.4Ghz transceiver used in countless consumer products. Not surprising that we've came across it's fake.

Genuine: This chip was extracted from "expensive" (~10$) RF module with additional RF amplifier chip:

Die size - 1876x1761 µm, 250nm technology.
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February 2, 2015

Reverse-engineering of KR580VM80A / i8080 is complete!

We are glad to announce that reverse engineering of KR580VM80A (the most popular CPU in the exUSSR, Intel 8080-compatible) is finally complete. Insane engineer Vslav (1801ВМ1@gmail.com) recovered full schematic in a very short time. After we got annotation and sorted out license (CC-BY-3.0) - it is available for everyone to enjoy.

It appeared that it had exactly 4758 transistors (contrary to rumors of 6000 or 4500).

Layout of KR580VM80A is quite similar though not identical to i8080, but there were no differing (vs i8080) opcodes identified.

Verilog model of KR580VM80A passed tough compatibility test both in simulation and as FPGA replacing actual KR580VM80A in "Specialist" computer.

Download links: Main verilog, Schematic, Full package.

Die annotation:
February 2, 2015

NXP 74AHC00 : Weekend die-shot

What is the simplest possible microchip? Probably it's 7400 - quad 2-input NAND gate. We made a die shot of NXP's 74AHC00 (AHC means "fast" CMOS). This is a nice example that 'old' tech nodes (1µm and older) are still in use. Also, note how many spare via are there.

Die size - 944x854 µm.

Update 02.02.2015: We redid this chip with better quality. Original photo (September 2, 2012). Looking at the quality difference gives me a warm feeling, 2.5 years well spent...
January 23, 2015

MC34063 : Weekend die-shot

MC34063 is by far the most widespread DC-DC switching regulator.

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