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Integrated Circuit Digital Image Gallery

The intricate details found on the surface of integrated circuits offer a unique glimpse into the miniature world of modern electronics. In reflected light mode, the MIC-D digital microscope is a useful tool for examining these devices, whether encapsulated in a package or in the form of a flat, raw wafer. Highlight regions containing busses and registers can be enhanced through the application of filter gels over the illuminator front lens element to produce highly colored digital images. The integrated circuit gallery contains images of common microprocessors, memory chips, math co-processors, as well as common network and logic circuits.

Advanced Micro Devices 486DX2 Microprocessor - As a worldwide quest for the computation crown continued into the fourth generation of PC-compatible microprocessors in the late 1980s, the 486 family grew with the use of internal clock doublers, triplers, and quadruplers creating the "speed demon" DX2s and DX4s. In March 1992, the 486DX2 was released with an external clock speed of just 25 MHz, but for its time, a lightning fast internal clock speed of 50 MHz.

Advanced Micro Devices 486DX4 Microprocessor - The involvement of semiconductor manufacturer, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), in personal computing spans the entire history of the industry, having supplied every generation of PC processor from the 8088 used in the first IBM PCs to the newer, seventh generation 1.4 GHz clock speed Athlon processor. It wasn't until AMD and its rival Cyrix released their clone versions of the Intel 486DX2 and 486DX4 microprocessors that they really came into their own.

Advanced Micro Devices Logic Integrated Circuit - Part of a silicon chip set, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) logic chips are designed to optimize the performance and power of a central processing unit (CPU). Functions that once required multiples of relatively large integrated circuit boards of much lower computing power and speed, can now be assigned to chipsets of semiconductors that are designed to work together as a unit.

Binary Countdown Integrated Circuit - The demand for a means of communication to coordinate action among multiple CPUs is driving the increased reliance on chip-based communication protocols. Known formally as a binary countdown circuit, a counter is an integrated circuit that is often used to provide protocol for wired or wireless communication systems such as local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANS).

Cyrix 6x86 Microprocessor - Although Intel never produced chips termed 586s or 686s, the Cyrix 6x86 microprocessors were designed to compete with the Pentium 166 and the Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) K5 PR166, the so-called "Pentium killer". As with the AMD K5 and K6, Cyrix 6x86s received a P-rating that enabled the consumer to compare these clones to Intel Pentium performance, although internally, they are very different designs and not always compatible.

Digital Signal Processor - Within their category, DSPs are unique devices because they process data in real time. This feature makes digital signal processors well suited for applications where delays would be unacceptable such as digital cellular phones, compact disc players, and missile guidance systems. In the digital cell phone, the digital signal processor compresses the digital signals and removes any background noise, resulting in crystal clear sound without annoying echoes. In video systems, DSPs clean up noise, resulting in sharper images.

Dual-Ported RAM Controller - During the beginning of the 80X86 era of the early 1980s, dual-port random access memory (RAM) controller chips, such as the Intel 8207, were marketed in large quantities. As the name implies, these semiconductor devices arbitrate RAM requests from the central processing unit (CPU) and other devices such as a math coprocessor in a personal computer, electronic game console, hand-held device, or other processor-controlled hardware.

IBM 386SLC Microprocessor - As a low-power version of the stellar 386 microprocessor released in late 1991, the IBM 386SLC was equipped with extra pins assigned for power management and a software-enabled 8-Kbyte cache memory. Designed with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the 161-square millimeter die featured three models with clock speeds of 16, 20, and 25 MHz. The fastest model produced only 2.5 watts of dissipated power, suiting it well for laptops and other portable devices.

Intel 386 Microprocessor - In 1985 with a 16-billion-dollar software library focused on the 8088 and 80286, the compatible 80386 ushered in the third generation of Intel microprocessors. After the correction of many of the 286's inherent problems, the 386 represented a giant leap in raw power with true 32-bit architecture (external data buses and internal registers).

Intel 387 Math Coprocessor - In the late 1980s, Intel built a significant business selling math coprocessors, which provided floating-point math capabilities for the 286 and 386 microprocessors. Newer central processing units (CPUs) such as the 80486, Pentium, Xeon, and Itanium series have coprocessing capabilities built into the core processor, and as a consequence, Intel replaced their coprocessor market with the lucrative microprocessor upgrade business.

Intel 486DX Microprocessor - In 1989, the 32-bit 486DX heralded Intel's fourth generation of microprocessors with two radical innovations: the integration of the floating-point unit (FPU) on the same chip and the addition of an internal write-through 8-Kbyte memory cache. With 1.2 million transistors on an 81-square millimeter silicon substrate, the chip was photolithographed with 1.0-micron complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology and was a tremendous advance over the reigning 80386 central processing unit (CPU).

Intel 486DX2 Microprocessor - As the quest for the computation crown continued into Intel's fourth generation of microprocessors, the 486 family grew with the use of internal clock doublers and triplers, creating the then-"speed demon" DX2s and DX4s. In March 1992, the 486DX2 was released with an external clock (bus) speed of just 25 MHz, but with a "lightning fast" internal clock speed of 50 MHz.

Intel 486DX4 Microprocessor - Despite the name, the Intel 486DX4 microprocessor does not run internally at four times the memory bus speed, but rather at triple the external clock speed. Since Intel reserved the "DX3" designation for a 2.5 times clock multiplier that never reached the marketplace, they had to create the newer moniker, the "DX4". Although Intel never produced one, clone makers such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Cyrix sold 5x86 central processing units (CPUs) that were actual clock quadruplers.

Intel 486SX Microprocessor - While the 80486 (DX version) is basically an enhanced 386 with an internal cache and math coprocessor, the Intel 486SX is the "economy model" lacking the math processor and internal cache. Originally issued as discounted DX chips that failed the cache and/or coprocessor tests, these defective silicon chips were soon released as their own design in a fashion similar to Intel's release of the 386SX following the higher-power 80386 processor (386DX).

Intel 487SX Math Coprocessor - Released in the early 1990s as a math coprocessor for personal computers, the Intel 487SX provided the missing floating-point unit (FPU) for the 486SX microprocessor. In actuality, the 487SX is a version of the much more expensive and functional Intel 486DX processor outfitted with an extra pin so that it fits into the coprocessor socket.

Intel 8087 Math Coprocessor - Released in 1980, the Intel 8087 is the math coprocessor designed to accompany the 16-bit 8086 and 8088 microprocessors. The 8087 fits into a 40-pin dual in-line package (DIP) socket that provides the chip with the same addressing and data handling capabilities as the CPU it matches.

Intel 8088 Microprocessor - The 8088 was the processor that fueled the personal computer revolution beginning with the IBM PC introduced in 1981. Squeezing 29,000 transistors onto a sliver of silicon using 3.0 micron technology, the Intel 8088 central processing unit (CPU) was produced in two versions: one with a clock speed of 5 MHz capable of 0.33 MIPS (millions of instructions per second) and the other at 8 MHz and 0.75 MIPS. With a 16-bit internal register width, this microprocessor was able to address 1 megabyte of memory.

Intel i960 Embedded Microprocessor - Many consumers know Intel as the company making the processors inside their personal computers. However, Intel's i960 line of microprocessors, featuring a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) specification, provides the "brains" for a vast array of other products. Among these are the then-popular (circa 1995) Daytona arcade racing game from Sega, the best-selling Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4 series printers, video poker machines used in casinos around the world, and early hand-held global positioning satellite (GPS) systems that oriented outdoor enthusiasts, the military, and rescue personnel to exact locations.

Intel Core Logic Integrated Circuit - As embedded microprocessors move into a wider array of consumer electronic devices and industrial production, the need to connect microprocessors, read-only memory (ROM), synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM), and peripheral component interface (PCI) buses in an efficient manner created the demand for core logic chips. Intel designed the 21285 core logic device as a single-chip interface between the StrongARM SA-110 microprocessor and the other semiconductor components.

Intel Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM) - Erasable programmable read-only memory (commonly referred to by the acronym EPROM) offers developers and users of microprocessor-controlled devices options for customizing their equipment, turning somewhat away from the off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all ideal. Without the great expense of custom design and production, these chips also enable manufacturers to upgrade or debug electronic devices before shipping, without having to redesign and retool their assembly lines.

MIPS R3000 Microprocessor - In 1988, following their revolutionary R2000, MIPS Technologies Inc. released the R3000 reduced instruction set computing (RISC) microprocessor with improved cache control. Featuring 110,000 transistors fabricated by applying 1.2 micron linewidth process techniques, the microprocessor operated at a clock speed of 20 MHz with a peak power dissipation of 4.0 watts.

MIPS R4000 Microprocessor - Following the R3000 microprocessor, in 1992 the R4000 was the first microprocessor released by the reformed MIPS Technologies Inc. semiconductor design firm. Similar to Sun Microsystems, MIPS designs chips, but does not manufacture them. Instead, MIPS licensed or sub-contracted their R4000 line of wafers to custom semiconductor manufacturers including NEC, Toshiba, LSI Logic, and Integrated Device Technologies (IDT). Although not apparent from the numerical identification, the R4000 was preceded by the R6000 processor, which was released in 1991.

NEC V20 Microprocessor - The NEC V20 was Nippon Electric Company's (NEC) first venture into reverse-engineering an Intel microprocessor chip instead of licensing the designs, as was common practice in the 1980s. The move heralded the beginnings of a surge in Japan's now-giant semiconductor industry. The NEC V20 was directly interchangeable with Intel's 8088 microprocessor line, and featured a die having 29,000 transistors and a clock speed of 8 to 10 MHz. Due to the complete pin and signal compatibility, and an Intel 8088 simulation mode, some computer users exchanged their 8088 microprocessors for the newer and faster NEC chip. Sony also produced this microprocessor under license from NEC as the V20H.

Pentium Processor - Representing the fifth generation of Intel microprocessors, the 64-bit Pentium, code-named the P5 during development, succeeded the widely renowned 80486 chip in 1993. With 3.1 million transistors and super-scalar architecture, the Pentium provided five times the performance of the 33 MHz clock speed 486DX in the initial 60 and 66 MHz versions. Even from the initial designs, the Pentium was geared towards a tremendous amount of memory capability with 4 Gbytes of addressable memory and 64 Tbytes of virtual memory.

Pentium II Microprocessor - Joining the fifth generation of microprocessors, along with the Pentium Classic, MMX, and Pro versions, Intel engineers released the Pentium II (code-named Klamath) in 1997 for applications in high-end desktops, workstations, and network servers. This speedy microprocessor featured an astounding 7.5 million transistors, which were placed on a 203-square-millimeter silicon die utilizing 0.35 micron linewidth fabrication technology.

Pentium III Microprocessor - The Pentium III microprocessor, code named Katmai, was the next member of the P6 family to follow the Pentium II processor in the famous Intel IA-32 processor line. Released in early 1999, design engineers were able to squeeze 9.5 million transistors onto a relatively small silicon die by employing 0.25-micron, 4-layer chip fabrication technology.

Picture-In-Picture Integrated Circuit - Whether screening the latest DVD cinematic release without missing the final minutes of the big game on the large-screen color television, or the members of the family are disputing which channel to switch to during those frequent commercials, the picture-in-picture function has become a mainstay for many hardcore television fanatics.

PowerPC 601 Microprocessor - The IBM/Motorola PowerPC 601, designed for personal computers and low-end workstations, was originally released in April 1993 with a clock speed of 50 MHz, a 64-bit external data bus, and a 32-bit address bus. Later versions were manufactured with 60, 66, 80, 100, and 135 MHz clock speeds as the four-layer silicon semiconductor manufacturing technique was refined to the 0.5-micron level.

PowerPC 602 Microprocessor - The IBM/Motorola PowerPC 602 microprocessor, featuring an initial clock speed of 66 MHz, was a follow-up to the 1994 PowerPC 601. Released in February 1995 by an unusual consortium created by Apple, IBM, and Motorola, the PowerPC 602 microprocessor was designed as a low-power implementation of the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) specification for advanced consumer electronics, including handheld computers.

Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit - Radio frequency (RF) chip sets have rapidly evolved to 5 GHz clock speeds, based on silicon-germanium (SiGE) bipolar complementary metal oxide semiconductor (BiCMOS) fabrication techniques and other advances by research laboratories such as Lucent Technologies and Raytheon. Playing a starring role in the defense industry's guidance systems, RF chips are more complicated to design than digital chips because they operate at higher frequencies. Despite many wireless communications and network systems termed "digital", the RF chips that support them are analog.

Read-Only Memory (ROM) Integrated Circuit - The original read-only memory (or ROM) integrated circuits were a type of memory that was programmed once and could not be overwritten or changed. In the factory, programmable read-only memory (PROM) chips provide the manufacturers the opportunity to store software in a region of a personal computer or other electronic device that cannot be erased, thus the name "firmware" and the classification as nonvolatile memory.

Schottky Logic Integrated Circuit - A type of bipolar or junction logic chip (as opposed to a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET)), the integrated Schottky logic (ISL) circuit is produced by semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments. During 1988, TI released standard transistor-transistor logic (TTL), Schottky, and low power Schottky (LS) devices.

Sun UltraSPARC Microprocessor - The Sun Microsystems UltraSPARC is a 64-bit superscalar processor released in late 1995 with help from Texas Instruments, following the widely successful earlier SPARC (Scalable Processor ARChitecture) designs. Being a scalable chip, as the silicon semiconductor technology improves, the design rules may be tightened, resulting in a more compact layout that takes advantage of innovations without a total redesign of the architecture.

Texas Instruments 486 Microprocessor - Texas Instruments (TI) released a 486 microprocessor clone in 1992. As with other licensed look-alikes, the TI 486 chip is virtually identical to Intel's original design with regard to instruction sets and performance. Although largely obsolete in the personal computer market, TI486s are featured as on-board processors for modern electronic equipment such as data acquisition processors, and are still employed in embedded applications with improved cache memories, clock speeds, and lower power requirements.

Texas Instruments 486DX Microprocessor - In 1989, the 32-bit 80486 heralded the fourth generation of microprocessors with two radical innovations: the integration of a floating-point unit along with the processor and the addition of an internal 8-Kbyte memory cache. With 1.2 million transistors on an 81-square millimeter silicon die, the 486 chip was created with 1.0-micron complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. This microprocessor took the world's personal computer markets by storm, and was issued by the designer, Intel, and licensed manufacturers such as Texas Instruments, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices, and Cyrix.

Texas Instruments 486DX4 Microprocessor - Despite the name, the Texas Instruments 486DX4 microprocessor does not run internally at four times the memory bus speed, but rather at triple the external clock speed. Since Intel reserved the DX3 designation for a 2.5 times clock multiplier that never reached the marketplace, they created the newer moniker, the DX4, which other licensees such as IBM, AMD, SGS, and Cyrix also adopted. Although Intel never produced one, clone makers such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Cyrix sold 5x86 processors that were actual clock quadruplers.

Texas Instruments 486SLX Microprocessor - Introduced as an enhanced 486SX chip, Intel and its licensees Texas Instruments, Cyrix, and Advanced Micro Devices produced the 486SLX microprocessor. The Texas Instruments 486SLX was designed for notebook computers such as the IBM Thinkpad, but found seats in the motherboards of other laptops and some desktop computers with 25-MHz and 33-MHz clock speed versions.

Weitek 91460 Graphics Processor - The Weitek 91460, released in 1992, was the "brains" behind some of the innovative graphics abilities displayed by the Commodore Amiga. Assisted with 2 Mbytes of memory, Ameristar Technologies featured the 91460 chip on their Model 1600GX graphics adapter card.

Weitek Math Coprocessor - In 1988, upstart semiconductor manufacturer Weitek released math coprocessors that were able to perform most of functions featured by the Intel 80387 math coprocessor when matched with the wildly successful 386 processors. Because Weitek math coprocessors used system random-access memory (RAM), 386 motherboards supporting these chips were significantly faster than those seating i387s.

Weitek P9000 Video Graphics Processor - Weitek produced multimedia chips in the P9000 line for popular video cards released by Diamond and Orchid in 1994. After Weitek went out of business in 1997, it was absorbed into the Brooktree Division of Rockwell Semiconductor, which survives as an independent spin-off, Conexant Systems.

Contributing Authors

Omar Alvarado, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.



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