Rockwell T-1 Communication Chip Silicon Wafers - R8050, R8060, 4", 100mm


Availability: 1 in stock

About this Artwork:

Introduced in the 1960s, AT&T's T-1 carriers were the first high-speed, long-distance digital communications lines. The T-1 would allow 24 64Kbs data channels to be transmitted over two phone company twisted copper wire pairs. The total bandwidth was 1.5Mps. In the 1980s and 1990s, T-1s were the basic building blocks of the Internet. In the early 1980s, Rockwell introduced the first LSI computer chips that dramatically reduced the number of devices needed and the costs required for building T-1 transmitting and receiving equipment.

T-1 Serial Transmitter - Rockwell R8050

The R8050 formatted data streams to be serially transmitted according to T-1 specifications. It inserted bits to create frames for the data and address one of the 24 available channels.

T-1 Serial Receiver - Rockwell R8060

The R8060 received the T-1 data stream. It then extracted data from the frames and reassembled the original data streams. It was also responsible for detecting data transmission errors.

About Voice Communications and T-1 Lines

Originally Plain Old Telephone Services (POTS) twisted-pair lines were analog and designed to handle frequencies up to 3kHz, about the range of the human voice. As modems and the digital world came about, bits per second became the measure of capacity. A POTS line could transmit up to 64 kbps and became the standard measure for all digital communications. The T-1 was designed to handle long-distance (which required two twisted-pair lines) and supported 24 digital voice channels. As more information data vs. voice data began being transmitted with IT networks and the beginnings of the W3 Internet, the total bandwidth of the T-1, 1.5mbps, was commonly referenced. As data capacity requirements increased, additional digital long-distance capacities have been developed, such as the T-3 43mbps (28 T-1s), OC-3 155 mbps (84 T-1s), OC-12 622 mbps (4 OC-3s), OC-48 - 2.5 gbps (4 OC-12s), and OC-192 - 9.6 gbps (4 OC-48s).

About the Silicon Wafers

Each of the two four-inch silicon wafers was made by Rockwell International in the early1980s. The transmit wafer has about 1,080 R8050 chips on it, and the receiver has about 380 R8060 chips. The R8060 was a larger chip due to the memory areas needed to reassemble the incoming data streams. Even today, genuine R8050 and R8060 chips still sell for over $10. At 1400 total chips on the wafers, these wafers would have a $14,000 value (given 100% yield). Back in the 1980s, they would have sold for much more.

About Making Computer Chips

Computer chips start as ordinary sand, which is silicon dioxide. The first step is to melt the sand in a furnace that reaches about 3200o F. The silicon is purified to create 99.9999% pure silicon. The silicon is broken up into chunks and melted in a crucible. A silicon crystal seed is dipped in molten silicon and slowly drawn out to create a silicon cylinder. These silicon cylinders are some of the purest crystals on the planet. Once the silicon cylinder is grown to the desired diameter, it is sawed into wafers and polished to achieve a very flat mirror surface. Transistors, and other microelectronic parts, are built on the polished wafer in layers in an etching process. The wafer is then sawed/diced into its individual chips. Each chip is mounted in an electronic package that protects it and connects it to the outside world. We essentially take a pile of sand and change it into thousands of dollars worth of computer chips.


The artwork is 9"x20" in a black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.

Please note:  The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.