Can anyone tell me how difficult, time consuming and expensive is to reverse all layers of a die ? Say a die from a recent model SoC Processor IC found in smartphone devices such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC IC ? Also is it possible to de-cap safely an IC using a houshold kitchen microwave ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want to use a Microwave (and to that question: nope) you don't have a Scanning Electron Microscope, I presume? Forget analysing a 22nm structure. let alone a multi layer one. \$\endgroup\$ – Asmyldof Aug 25 '15 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the response. Nope I don't have an electron microscope but in this post it says its quite easy to reverse an IC electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/13472/… \$\endgroup\$ – Victor Mehta Aug 25 '15 at 22:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's possible, but it requires a couple million dollars worth of equipment. It's not "easy" in any sense that could be done at home. \$\endgroup\$ – pjc50 Aug 25 '15 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorMehta Yes, that answer does say it's possible, but those pictures aren't made with a phone camera. Those lines and etches for a post year 2000 SoC are at widest 1micro meter. That's 1/1000th of a milimeter, is 1/25400th of an inch. And that's the widest, never mind the smallest. \$\endgroup\$ – Asmyldof Aug 25 '15 at 23:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ In our company's FA lab, we use a nitric acid fountain to etch open the epoxy package to examine the bare silicon die. (This is for failure analysis of customer returns of our own products, not reverse engineering; but similar principles.) Read the MSDS, this is dangerous stuff to work with: labchem.com/tools/msds/msds/LC17770.pdf Not suitable for home/hobby use. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkU Aug 26 '15 at 1:46

Without super high resolution X-ray machines and a scanning electron microscope you won't be able to reverse engineer a modern chip. The node process used is probably sub 100 nano meter. The post and subsequent article that you quoted is about reverse engineering a very old chip with less then at most tens of thousands of transistors. The Qualcomm Snapdragon is in the millions.


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