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Geek Culture / Manufacturing "Generations and Relatives"

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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 07:08 Edited at: 10th Apr 2015 07:51
I had no idea what to title this post; it will make more sense if you read. I was sitting back in my chair just now, came up with the idea, and decided that I must immediately come here and share.

To elaborate, I was thinking about semiconductor (microelectronics, specifically) manufacturing, and thinking about how incredibly precise it has to be. No human has the ability to do it so precisely, so we use machines. But those machines, too, had to be manufactured very precisely. How was that done? Well presumably another machine made the precise parts for those semiconductor fab machines. How about those machines? I think you see where I am going -- machines are made of parts that were made by other machines, and so on. But tracing that lineage of manufacturing back, you eventually come across a point where humans were directly involved in the manufacturing of a machine or part. That is, the humans themselves made the part manually. This brings up a couple interesting ideas. First of all, the precision of the manufacturing of us relatively clumsy humans can be massively multiplied by creating machines that help create other machines, and so on. Second, every modern product we have, ranging from cars to semiconductors with 14nm features, has ultimately, whether directly or (more likely) indirectly through machines, been created entirely by human hands.

I suppose those two ideas there are pretty obvious and self evident. But that made me think about something interesting. Take a microprocessor for instance: it almost has "relatives" of manufacturing, so to speak. For instance, the fab machines that manufactured it are its direct relatives, followed by the machines that helped make those machines, and so on. Eventually, indeed, the "relatives" can be traced back to human hands.

Now, like any lineage of ancestry, individual lineages spread out very quickly. We each have eight great grandparents, for example, despite them being only three (or two?) generations away. Well if you take any manufactured product and trace all of its various manufacturing lineages back, they all end with human hands somewhere. So, finally, my ultimate question. Take a microprocessor for instance; how long back does its farthest manufacturing lineage trace? Back to the industrial revolution? I wouldn't be surprised! Perhaps just one part was manufactured back then that went into another machine, which created parts for another machine, and so on, all the way to high tech semiconductor fab machines today.

Thinking about modern day products having parts that have been isolated from manufacturing via manual labor for decades is a fascinating concept to me.

Also, I have no idea if this post is too complex to be fully followed... Ah well.

You're currently reading a post signature on an Internet forum -- get a life!
Kezzla
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 09:09
The cyber-net family tree has some strange looking branches I'll bet.

Interesting the other way too with 3d printing now.

Do
Print a smaller printer to print a smaller printer.
Loop

How far back could you trace it?

The stone that broke the stone that chopped the tree that charred to coal to melt the ore to make the axe that chopped the tree...

I think we could take it right back and prove that cavemen in fact played a direct hand in microprocessor production.

The humble rock is the patriarch of the microprocessor family. Who'd a thunk it?

To Err is Human...
To Arr is Pirate!
bitJericho
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 10:19
You might as well keep going back and now surely you realize that the universe itself with the explosion at the beginning of time is the inventor of the modern microprocessor.

Van B
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 10:21
The machines used in wafer fabrication aren't actually too complicated - it's the actual circuitry on a wafer that fascinates me, especially the nano-mechanical stuff.

The production process is a case of transferring layers of material onto the wafer, diffusing in a furnace, etching in acid baths, add another layer, repeat. Humans are still completely involved - manually aligning mask images, loading furnaces, cleaning wafers and etching - silicon wafers are very sensitive, and for that reason the production process is fairly manual, if anything is gonna break a wafer, it's a loading/unloading transfer device.

There are some wafer testing machines that are incredibly sensitive and accurate, I mean there is no such thing as a 100% yield wafer, there are always die that fail testing - so a 'prober' is used to test an individual die, it's like a board with dozens of thin needles for testing currents. Those are pretty cool machines - a stereo microscope and a joystick, what more could you ask for!

I am the one who knocks...
TheComet
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 14:57
Compilers are much the same. Someone at some point wrote a parser in assembly, which at some point was able to compile itself to create a better compiler, which was able to compile itself to create a better compiler, and so on.

Need help with C/C++ game dev? PM me or add me on skype: the__comet.
Current active project: Light Ship
Indicium
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 15:00
And somebody was using an operating system when they wrote the code for the next iteration of operating system.
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 10th Apr 2015 15:30
Quote: "I think we could take it right back and prove that cavemen in fact played a direct hand in microprocessor production."
Excellent realization! I myself didn't take it that far, but that too is fascinating to me.

Quote: "manually aligning mask images"
Beside the point of the thread, that too fascinates me. When they double expose, for instance, to achieve feature sizes smaller than the photoresist can physically be developed to, the alignment of both mask layers has to be done with nanometer accuracy. How does one go about doing so manually? I believe it's done, of course, but I wonder how.

The other examples here are true as well.

I am a rather interesting person, as many people who know me are aware of. It really doesn't take that much to fascinate me, and simple realizations like this get me pretty excited for some reason.

You're currently reading a post signature on an Internet forum -- get a life!
Kezzla
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Posted: 11th Apr 2015 18:11
Quote: "You might as well keep going back and now surely you realize that the universe itself with the explosion at the beginning of time is the inventor of the modern microprocessor."

Touche

we is me. (sic)

To Err is Human...
To Arr is Pirate!

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