Extreme Delidding! A Close Look At AMD and Intel’s Transistors
Warning, Hardware Porn Ahead
If you crave a close look at the latest architecture from AMD and Intel then you need to check out what der8auer has been up to lately. He wanted a close up look at the gates being used on both Intel’s 14nm++ and AMD’s 7nm chips, and set out to figure out a way to do so. You won’t find the equipment needed to be able to do this yourself in your garage, unless you do happen to have an electron microscope kicking around for some reason, so head over to Hackaday to see the results.
Extracting a transistor, let alone a single gate, from a full chip is not an easy process but with a little know how and serious tech it can indeed be done. Firstly, you need to ensure the chip is bathing in a a platinum gas and fire a focused ion beam on the surface of the chip. This will slowly build up a protective layer of platinum on the surface of the chip and provide enough protection you can start carving it up.
der8auer then cut a tiny layer 100 micrometers thick, to then be able to use a scanning transmission electron microscope to focus on a single gate to see what the structure looks like. As it turned out that was nowhere near thin enough, eventually the thin lamella was reduced to between 200 to 300nm to be able to get a clear look. You can watch the video to see the measurements of the gate height, width, spacing, and other details of Intel and AMD’s current designs.
On each chip, a thin sliver from the L1 cache was chosen as caches tend to be fairly homogenous sections with transistors that are fairly indicative of the rest of the chip.