Silicon Investigations Repair Service

Silicon Investigations Integrated Circuit Reverse Engineering Services

We are an electronic engineering and R&D company specializing in reverse engineering of integrated circuits and PCBs to provide the supporting engineering documentation you require.

Reverse engineering of integrated circuits involves examining a chip to see how it operates and the processes used to create it. This involves taking the chip apart (called deprocessing) to determine what components are used to make it work and how they are interconnected (called a netlist extraction).  The first step in reverse engineering an integrated circuit is to remove the actual silicon (or other semiconductor) die from the plastic or metal chip carrier in a process called decapsulation.  Once the bare die is obtained, it is examined under a scanning electron microscope and optical microscopes to identify the circuit elements and how they are interconnected.  This is dome by making a high resolution image of each layer of the chip (subsequent layers are exposed by deprocessing).  Once this series of image layers is created, software is employed that extracts the circuit elements and the netlist.  The resulting schematic of the chip is then verified and delivered to the customer.

We can also reverse engineer a printed circuit board (PCB) to determine how the components are interconnected. Multi-layer boards are analyzed by X-Ray examination or delaminated and imaged to determine how the inner traces are routed and connected.  The images of the individual layers of a printed circuit board are analyzed to generate a net list then converted to a schematic that can be used to recreate the board.

Sometimes the operation of a microprocessor or a PLD/FPGA can be determined solely by observing the inputs and outputs.  More commonly, we read out the machine code to determine how it operates.  Some embedded processors have security measures to prevent this, but there are many tools at our disposal to circumvent them so that the original program code can be extracted.

The results are usually a block diagram, schematic diagram, circuit board layout, flowchart, netlist table, raw program code, or operational documentation.  Depending on your requirements, we can deliver documentation in many different formats.

Reverse engineering is required more and more to support older products.  Many times, for older products, the original schematics and product support documentation have been lost over time, and it is necessary to re-create the documentation.  Additionally, some components may have been house numbered or had their identification obscured to prevent field repair.  In some cases, the component may no longer be available and a substitute must be found or engineered.

We can also provide this type of engineering service discreetly without the involvement or knowledge of your in-house engineers or other departments if needed.

We have over 25 years of practical experience in reverse engineering of semiconductor devices.  From firmware debugging to failure analysis and reverse engineering, we have the tools and skills necessary to assist your organization.

For further information, please contact us.

Last Modified May 29, 2020
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