Lunch And Learn: Computer Chips

At Kodiak we have a weekly, optional meeting called Lunch & Learn, where somebody in the company talks about something they know well.

Usually the topic is related to, but not strictly a part of, Kodiak and autonomous trucking. And, usually, the format is for the session leader to play a video and add some comments. That’s a lot easier than coming up with an hour-long lecture from scratch.

This week, we learned about silicon chips, including why chips have been in short supply in automotive industry.

We watched a sequence of videos, including this video by TechAltar: “Why making chips is so hard.”

The video highlights five areas required for chips:

  1. Instruction Set Architecture
  2. Chip Design
  3. Fabrication
  4. Equipment & Software
  5. Packaging

Of those, fabrication seems like the hardest, due to the massive capital investments required for fabrication equipment.

The whole video is great and worth a watch.

A bonus question somebody asked in our session, that is not addressed by the video: why are silicon wafers round?

Answer: silicon ingots are formed by the Czochralski method, which basically involves melting an ingot and letting it spread out from the center. This results in round wafers.

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