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electronic components and devices
An Overview of Chip Manufacturing Process

Chips are in many ways the lifeblood of the modern economy. They power computers, smartphones, cars, appliances and many other electronic products. But since the pandemic, the world’s demand for them has surged, which has also disrupted supply chains and led to global shortages.

Table of Contents

What is chip?

 Chip
Chip

A chip is an electronic component manufactured by microelectronics technology that integrates circuits and systems on a tiny silicon chip. Chips include electronic components such as transistors, resistors, and capacitors, and are one of the core components of various electronic devices.

What does the chip do?

Chips, or integrated circuits, began to replace bulky individual transistors in the late 1950s. Many of these tiny components are produced on a single piece of silicon and wired together to work. The resulting chips store data, amplify radio signals, and perform other operations; Intel is known for its variety of microprocessors, which perform most of a computer’s computing functions.

Intel Corporation has managed to shrink the transistors on its microprocessors to incredible sizes. But its rival TSMC can produce smaller components, and this is why Apple chose TSMC to make chips for its latest iPhones.

How chips are made?

How chips are made
How chips are made

Chipmakers are packing more and more transistors onto each piece of silicon, which is why the technology is increasing every year. That’s why new chip factories cost billions of dollars, but few companies can afford.

In addition to building factories and buying machinery, companies must spend huge sums developing the complex processing steps to make chips out of flat-panel-sized wafers—which is why these factories are called “fabs.”

Huge machines design chips on each wafer, then deposit and etch layers of material to make transistors and connect them. In these systems, up to 25 wafers are transported at a time in special pods on automated elevated tracks.

Processing a single wafer takes thousands of steps and takes up to two months. In recent years, TSMC has set the pace for output, operating “gigafabs” with four or more production lines. Dan Hutcheson, vice chairman of market research firm TechInsights, estimates that each fab can process more than 100,000 wafers per month. He estimates that Intel’s two planned $10 billion factories in Arizona will have a capacity of about 40,000 wafers a month.

How the chip is packaged?

How the chip is packaged
How the chip is packaged

After processing, the wafer is sliced into individual slices. These are tested and wrapped in plastic packaging to connect to the circuit board or part of the system.

This step has become a new battleground because it is more difficult to make transistors smaller. Companies are now stacking multiple chips, or placing them side-by-side in a package, connecting them like a single silicon chip.

Packaging small numbers of chips together is now routine, and Intel has developed an advanced product that uses new technology to bundle together 47 individual chips, including some made by TSMC and Chips made by other companies, and chips made at Intel factories.

What makes a chip factory different?

Intel chips typically sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars. Intel, for example, released its fastest microprocessor for desktop computers in March, starting at $739. Fabs must be cleaner than hospital operating rooms, requiring sophisticated systems to filter air and regulate temperature and humidity.

The fab must also be free from any vibrations that could cause expensive equipment to fail. So the perfect clean room is built on huge concrete slabs, mounted on special shock absorbers.

Also important is the ability to move large volumes of liquids and gases. Intel’s top factory is about 70 feet (21 meters) high, with giant fans that help circulate air to the clean room directly below. Beneath the clean room are thousands of pumps, transformers, power cabinets, utility piping and chillers connected to production equipment.

FAQ

A chip is an electronic component manufactured by microelectronics technology that integrates circuits and systems on a tiny silicon chip. Chips include electronic components such as transistors, resistors, and capacitors, and are one of the core components of various electronic devices.

Chips, or integrated circuits, began to replace bulky individual transistors in the late 1950s. Many of these tiny components are produced on a single piece of silicon and wired together to work. The resulting chips store data, amplify radio signals, and perform other operations.

After processing, the wafer is sliced into individual slices. These are tested and wrapped in plastic packaging to connect to the circuit board or part of the system.

This step has become a new battleground because it is more difficult to make transistors smaller. Companies are now stacking multiple chips, or placing them side-by-side in a package, connecting them like a single silicon chip.

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