Rockwell Tri-port Memory Chip Silicon Wafer, R8040 - 4", 100mm, Triport, T-1
About this Artwork:
About the Rockwell R8040 Tri-Port Memory Chip
The R8040 Tri-Port Memory chip was designed to support Rockwell's T-1 communication chips: the R8050, R8060, and R8070. The R8040 is designed to function as an assembly point and temporary storage area for 8-bit T-1 data. It provides 64 8-bit locations of on-chip random access memory, which can be accessed randomly or sequentially. Referring to the narrative on the back of the artwork, to the top-right is an image of a single R8040 chip. The chip is divided into upper and lower memory banks. The artwork was made from the area of the chip in the red rectangle. This area includes several memory cells and the interconnect logic that runs through the center between the two banks. Inside the red rectangle is a much smaller yellow rectangle. This bug-like pattern repeats throughout the memory banks. The lower picture to the right is from the artwork and is the area inside the yellow rectangle. This structure is four bits of memory. If you quarter the rectangle, each of these structures is a single bit of memory.
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 Wafer
This four-inch silicon wafer was made by Rockwell International in the early 1980s. The wafer has about 350 R8040 tri-port memory chips on it. Even today, genuine R8040 chips still sell for over $25. This wafer would have an $8,000 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.