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Essential Guide to Computing: The Story of Information Technology, The by E. Garrison Walters

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Silicon Foundations: Making Chips

Nearly all chips—microprocessor, memory, specialized—are made from a single silicon crystal that is grown into a long salami-like shape. The current standard for these crystals is eight inches in diameter, although we should see 12-inch (300 mm) diameter sizes in a few years. When the crystal is finished, it is cut into thin slices called wafers. It is on these that the chips are made.

Tech Talk

Wafer: A wafer is a slice of extremely pure crystalline silicon on which chips are fabricated. Current wafers are about 8″ in diameter, but 12″ wafer production is just beginning. Once the 12″ processes are perfected, the price of chips should fall even faster. Some more exotic processes use wafers made from other substances, ...

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