Skip to main content

A Pentium III Autopsy Using an Electron Microscope

However, if you have access to an electron microscope, even this old CPU can provide stunning imagery.

A science teacher examined the core of a Pentium III CPU. He removed the package via a power saw and used a scalpel to open the actual CPU cover. The interesting part begins with images that were taken using an optical microscope, enabling him to peek through the holes of the cover to see the connecting points between the CPU and the circuit board. The optical microscope took him close enough to see the different layers of the chip.

He transitioned to an electron microscope and drilled down to a level that we typically only get to see in pictures that are provided by the manufacturer itself. The examination ended at a resolution that allowed him to spot structures as small as 2000 nm, which is not close enough to actually see the transistors, but provides stunning detail of the CPU, even at a 10,000 nm level. Head over to SciencyStuff to see more pictures.

Even if we deal with CPUs on a daily basis (and the Pentium III is more than 11 years old), this is something we don't see too often.

  • ithurtswhenipee
    I love how clicking on the zoom link provides you with a picture that is about 3% larger.
    Reply
  • itzdanielp
    Wow, those are some incredible shots. Boggles my mind how chips can even be manufactured at the sizes they are currently... 0_0
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    This is interesting, but seeing a CPU being sawed... it somehow tortures me from the inside.

    A 250 nm Pentium III processor may not be the most interesting piece of hardware anymore

    Cool story. I've been looking for one of those for 2 years by now to stuff into my old PC instead of a Celeron... just for the hell of it. Can't get them in the store, no one has one to give away and don't want to deal with ebay. Out of luck, I guess.
    Reply
  • Hellbound
    I still have an 800mhz P3 that still works.
    Reply
  • silverblue
    The P3 is more related to current Intel CPUs than the P4 is, so it's not completely without merit.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    250nm? That is incorrect once again people these days need to do their proper research. That is the Coppermine version and is 180nm not 250nm that is the older Katmai that has the external l2 cache. Kamai was only slot one while the Coppermine version can in socket 370 and slot one, the one in pic is the socket 370 version. The last was the Tualatin 130nm series and often had an advantage over most early p4 Willamette cpu-s.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor
    just for the hell of it. Can't get them in the store, no one has one to give away and don't want to deal with ebay. Out of luck, I guess.
    So you'd pay an insane premium at a store for Pentium III, but not deal with eBay?

    LMFAO
    Reply
  • chickenhoagie
    amk-aka-phantomThis is interesting, but seeing a CPU being sawed... it somehow tortures me from the inside.Cool story. I've been looking for one of those for 2 years by now to stuff into my old PC instead of a Celeron... just for the hell of it. Can't get them in the store, no one has one to give away and don't want to deal with ebay. Out of luck, I guess.we have them also:) all the way back to the original Pentium chips

    www.atrecycle.com
    Reply
  • mrmotion
    just junked a pII about a month ago. Still worked, used to play Wolfenstien and Commander Keen on it.
    Reply
  • Kamab
    Can't you view something that is 2um in size with an optical microscope pretty easily? What was the electron microscope for?
    Reply