- Written by IAL Staff
"Of all the chip-joints, in all the electronic plants, in all the world,
SAM had to walk into mine…"—Bogart-Droid 3000
Some things are just inevitable; they need to be together if the universe is ever going to make sense. Such is the case with Scanning Acoustic Microscopy, or SAM, and the microchip manufacturing process.
Consider something like automobile production in the United States. It stands at about 12,000,000 cars per year. If 99.9% came off the assembly line in perfect condition and ready-to-drive that would look pretty good on paper.
Except, perhaps, for the large parking lot outside the assembly plant that would be required to store the bad cars; with 1/10th of 1% of the production failing, 12,000 bright, shiny, brand new cars would be sitting out in the lot. Better plan on having about 250 parking places ready at all times. At least the mechanics and technicians would have permanent jobs.
For the average person looking at a tiny microchip, there's very little to see. It's a mysterious black box with "magic" inside. Show them a whole circuit board and suddenly they imagine an aerial view of a cityscape; a burgeoning metropolis with millions of residents and insane complexity. If you were to take a look inside a microchip, you would also see a city with roads of aluminum and copper busily running atop the surface of the silicon die, layer upon layer of them. They make the worst interstate exchange in LA look like a country road.