How a computer chip (CPU) is made.

ON chip or processor it is considered the “heart” of any electronic device, including computers. In general, we only know essential information about that component, such as maximum processor speed, business model, and some other technologies, for example. However, before reaching the consumer, it must face a rigorous and complex production process.

To explain the details, showmetech was invited by Intel get to know FAB28one of the company’s main plants in Kiryat Gat, Israel. Next, we’ll show you the steps needed to make a computer chip.

circular diagram

The first step in the production of a computer chip is the creation of a circuit diagram. Designers and engineers work out a kind of blueprint that determines the position of each part inside the CPU, which is extremely important for deciding the amount of cache, memory levels, frequencies, and other details.

Diagram of the Intel 4004, the first Intel microprocessor produced in 1971 (Image: reproduction/Internet)

To accomplish this task, those involved must have advanced knowledge of what existing components/technologies can be used to generate a functional and viable diagram for production. In addition, engineers must also plan ahead for CPU designs, since they may not be commercialized until several months later.

Raw material

Did you know that the raw material of the CPU sands? Before it goes through several processes to become an intelligent component, this material is collected by manufacturers because it contains 25% silicon, a key element for the production of computer chips.

Sand contains 25% silicon.
Sand has 25% silicon in its composition (Image: Reproduction/Internet)

As much as possible use other elements, such as galliumfor example, most companies choose this chemical component due to the low price and ease of procurement, since sand is abundant on our planet.


After extracting the silicon from the sand, it needs to be purified as much as possible in order to achieve its best quality and avoid production problems. To give you an idea of ​​the importance of this process, the purity level should be 99.9999999%. In other words, out of every 1 billion atoms, only one may not be made of silicon.

silicon ingot
Silicon ingot (Image: Reproduction/Internet)

Purification takes place using some kind of oven, which exposes the element to high temperatures to remove impurities and leave it in its purest form. The material is then cooled and shaped into a cylindrical shape (called an ingot) with an average weight of 100 kg.


A silicon ingot is heavy and would not be useful in this format. Therefore, manufacturers must cut it into slices to obtain small discs known as wafers. The size of the layers changes according to the manufacturer’s requirements. THE Intel, for example, it adopts a standard of 30 cm in diameter.

After cutting, these slices are specially polished and chemically treated to make them ready for the next step. From this moment on, the environment must have perfect hygiene to prevent dust particles and other debris from reaching wafers.

Chip manufacturing labs, known as “clean rooms,” are up to 10,000 times cleaner than an operating theater. Employees and visitors must wear special clothing, including gloves, mask, goggles and leg protection, for example, all to avoid contamination of parts.

Protective clothing used in intel fab28
Protective clothing used at Intel’s FAB28 (Image: Bruno Ayres Martinez/Showmetech)


After you make sure that it is wafers are properly “clean,” companies begin the process photolithography. At this stage, the disk receives a photo-resist material which, when hit by ultraviolet light, transfers the circuit diagram to the part.

It works like this: light passes over a “map” of circles that reflect the design in the lens. Once this is done, that same lens reduces the size of the diagram so that the scale shrinks down perfectly and reaches the size chosen by the manufacturer.

photolithography process
The ultraviolet light (2) reaches the “design” of the circuit (1) which reflects the image on the lens (3) and reaches the plate (4) (Image: Reproduction/Internet)

Finally, the reflected light is recorded in wafer and the embroidered parts become flexible and can be removed using a special liquid to create small grooves intended for transistors. This etching process, called “masking,” gives the chip its shape and functionality.

The next step is to enter the electrical properties of the transistor. Thanks to silicon’s semiconductivity, companies can change the element’s conductivity to modify atoms and insert them into the structure wafer. Initially, these atoms are distributed randomly, but after being exposed to high temperatures, they begin to occupy a fixed position in the disk structure.


Before adding copper to wafer, a thin layer of protection is applied to prevent short circuits. This material is then inserted to fill the part’s voids and interconnect billions of transistors, ensuring fast and accurate communication.

It is worth mentioning that during the entire production process there is a specialized team that analyzes each step with the help of a high-quality microscope. In this way, it is possible to check the structure of the transistor to make sure that there are no defects.


The final step in chip manufacturing is inserting the contacts into the back wafer and break it into smaller parts known as matriceswhich, after testing, go through the final cutting process to produce individual chip units only then.

However, these components are still not CPUs, but only diewhich needs to be “glued” to the metal base, the so-called substrate. The part, which is the underside of the chip, is responsible for interconnecting the internal circuits with the motherboard components. On the top there is another metal object that serves to disperse heat — it can also serve as a “panel” on which, for example, the name of the model and manufacturer is imprinted.

intel chip
Intel chip (Image: Disclosure)

After the entire assembly process, the chips are tested to ensure their functionality and quality. If everything goes as expected, they can now be sent to the manufacturer’s partner companies, which will make computers with the new hardware available to consumers in a short time.

See also:

Because the processor is the most important component in computing.

Sources: History-Computer, ComputerWorld, MyBroadBand.

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