Silicon Wafer - Rockwell 6522 VIA, 8"x10" - 4", 100mm, MOS
About the Rockwell 6522 VIA
This silicon wafer was fabricated by Rockwell International in 1987. This wafer contains the Rockwell version of the MOS 6522 Versatile Interface Adapter (VIA). The wafer has about 260 chips on it. Adjusted for inflation, the price per chip would be about $25, giving the wafer a value of about $6,500 in today’s dollars. The VIA gained popularity as a versatile peripheral interface for several home computers and gaming consoles of that era, including the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600. The 6522 VIA features a wide range of functionalities, making it a versatile chip for various input/output (I/O) tasks. Its key features include: two 8-bit bidirectional parallel I/O ports, two 16-bit programmable timers, Interrupt Control, a shift register, and handshake signals like Ready, Sync, and IRQ (Interrupt Request.) The 6522 VIA was widely used in early home computers and gaming consoles due to its flexibility and affordability. Its I/O capabilities allowed developers to interface with various devices, expanding the functionality and versatility of the systems it was used in. Rockwell licensed the 6502 family from MOS and became the second source of choice. Soon Rockwell began producing other 6502 and 6800 components. As Rockwell’s experience increased, they began creating original variations that MOS did not make, such as the R6500 and R6511. Rockwell produced the 6502 family longer than any other company.
About the Artwork
ChipScape artist Steve Emery created this artwork used to display this 6522 silicon wafer. ChipScapes are pictures taken of computer chips, sort of microscopic chip landscapes, or ChipScapes for short. The 6522 image was created by photographing these chips on the silicon wafers using a microscope and special lighting. The colors come from the prism effect created by the lighting and the layered manufacturing process of computer chips. All the chips on the wafer look the same, but I decided to borrow from Andy Worhol and shifted the four chips into different color schemes.
Check out my 11"x14" version of the same artwork.
The artwork is framed in an 8"x10" 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.
About Making Computer Chips:
Computer chips start out as ordinary sand, which is silicon dioxide. However, the silicon must be made very, very pure. The first step is to melt the sand, in a furnace that reaches about 3200o F, and mix with carbon. This first purification process creates 99% pure Silicon; a common output is Silicon Carbide. The Silicon Carbide is processed in a trichlorosilane distillation method to create 99.9999% pure silicon called polycrystalline silicon. The polysilicon is broken up into chunks. These chunks are melted in a crucible at about 2500o F. A silicon crystal seed is dipped in molten silicon and slowly drawn out to create a cylinder of silicon. 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. These wafers are polished to achieve a very flat mirror surface. Transistors, and other microelectronic parts, are built on the polished wafer in layers in a process called etching. The wafer is then sawed into its individual chips. Each chip is mounted in an electronic package that serves to protect it and connect it to the outside world. It has been said that computer chips are the greatest value-added product in the world. We essentially take a pile of sand and change it into thousands of dollars worth of computer chips.
Please note: The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.