This Sheet of Space-Bound Silicon Contains 1.75 Billion Transistors

Illustration for article titled This Sheet of Space-Bound Silicon Contains 1.75 Billion Transistors

This single 8 inch-diameter sheet of silicon is etched with 35 replicas of five different chips, each one destined to be sent into space.

Those brave hands in the picture are holding around 1.75 billion transistors in total, with each of the circuits being made up of around 10 million transistors or basic circuit switches. This was one of 25 identical sheets, produced at a cost of at least $3 million. The chips themselves will be used to perform specialized tasks, including data handling, communications processing and attitude control. [ESA]

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DISCUSSION

NatureNerd1
NatureNerd

This number of transistors is not impressive compared to modern circuits. What is impressive is the radiation hardening required for going to space (which decreases the achievable density, as a smaller transistor is more sensitive to radiation damage).

I have some pedantic items: they are silicon wafers, not "sheets", and it is a 200mm wafer, not 8 inches. That extra ⅛" would screw up all the equipment if you tried to use an 8" wafer.