Chip piracy through laser ablation...


Joined Mar 30, 2015
That's just decapping/delidding/decapsulation. Pirating requires removing layers one at a time. It was easier when there was only one layer of metal and you could see the devices.
Now there can be more than a dozen that need to be removed before you can see the transistors.

I guess you could go at it from the back side. That's how they used to do probing when they switch to C4 bumps. They even had the ability to cut traces and do some basic rewiring. IIRC, they called it "blue wiring". The company I worked for started doing that at 250nm. But you still need to remove the metal layers one at a time to trace connectivity.


Joined Aug 21, 2008
Cool clip!

The technique is also useful for detecting fake components and failure analysis. At one place where I once worked the engineers in component engineering would put parts under a nitric acid drip so they could investigate the non-organic innards.


Joined Oct 3, 2010
If it makes sense to go left->right in addition to bottom->top, wouldn't it also make sense to go right->left and top->bottom? Unless there is a good reason for not doing that, this bugs me like a picture hung crooked. Annoyance aside, it is pretty cool. I wonder what can be learned from it once you've got the encapsulation off?