For being the second most common element in the Earth’s crust, silicon has numerous applications that we use daily. For silicon to be used in technology such as phones, computers, and televisions, a silicon wafer supplier creates a flat, circular object called a wafer. Wafers are used to create computer chips, which allow our technology to function. This even includes video game consoles like the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. As consoles continue to improve with each new generation, they wouldn’t be where they are now without the continuous advancements in computer chips. At Wafer World, we are always striving to create the highest quality silicon wafers, allowing the very best computer chips can be manufactured for whatever they’re needed for. A sturdy foundation leads to continuous improvements.
Before a computer chip is used for video game consoles – or anything – it has to start as a silicon wafer. So, what does this process look like? The first step is purifying the silicon to electronic grade, which means it can only have one atom out of a billion that is not a silicon atom. Wafers need to be extremely pure to be a useful semiconductor. From there, the silicon is turned into an ingot that has a purity of 99.9999%. That ingot is thinly sliced into what is recognizable as a wafer. Due to the original shape of an ingot, the wafers are perfectly circular. After polishing, the wafer undergoes photolithography and etching before exposed areas of the wafer are implanted with ions. The wafers then undergo a process called electroplating, where copper ions are deposited onto the transistor. Finally, numerous metal layers that are similar in effect to wires are placed in ways that serve the computer chip's necessary function. Once these steps are all completed, wafer sort testing is completed to test their functionality. Each chip on the wafer is tested and compared to what their proper response should be. If the chip is approved, it is ready to move on to the next step. If it fails, it will be discarded. After the testing is completed, the wafer will be sliced into pieces called dies, allowing the faulty chips to be disposed of and the fully functional ones packaged and ready for distribution. In the gaming world, their next step is being fitted into a brand-new console.
At the beginning of video game history is the MOSFET, which stands for metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor. It is a field-effect transistor forged by oxidation of a silicon semiconductor. The MOSFET was created in the 1950s by Mohammad Atalla and Dawon Kahng and produced over 13 sextillion times. This ginormous number has given it the title of the most frequently manufactured item in human history. The MOSFET is also known as an IGFET (insulated gate field effect transistor) due to the oxide layer deposited on the substrate acting as an insulator. Before video game consoles were created, the first games ran on regular computers, but computers from the 1960s were a lot larger than those we use today. Our first look at this gaming technology came in the form of Spacewar! in 1962 – the first game to be played on a computer. Spacewar! was created a full decade before the famous Pong was released in 1972. Furthermore, this was also the same year the Magnavox Odyssey became the first game console released to the public.
With a simple visit to a silicon wafer supplier, video game console technology improved drastically in the 1980s. Specifically, they released systems such as the Atari, NES, Gameboy, and Genesis. The constant goal from wafer suppliers to create silicon wafers worthy of computer chip enhancements has led to continuous improvements in graphics, sound, and processing power. In the past, video games were extremely limited. They only allowed for graphics that vaguely look like the object they were trying to portray. The first games were only shown in two dimensions, and it wasn’t until Battlezone in 1980 that games began to shift toward 3D. However, it wasn’t until 1992’s Wolfenstein that games began to look like the more modern versions we see today. In recent years, console performance has improved drastically, creating nearly lifelike images in real-time with no need for prerendering. As gaming consoles have always been lagging behind computers' capabilities, the newest generation of consoles released in 2020 is bridging the gap much closer than ever before, partly thanks to the advancements in computer chips.
In November 2020, the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S were released to the public, ending the previous reign of consoles that lasted just short of seven years. Both the Xbox consoles and the PlayStation 5 are powered by a custom-made eight-core AMD Zen 2 central processing unit. Previously, the PlayStation 4 units were using an AMD Jaguar, a very efficient CPU at the time, but nothing compared to the Zen 2 cores in the newer consoles, which run roughly four times faster. Even with the effects of COVID-19 on the market, both silicon suppliers and the computer chip creator, AMD, were able to manufacture their products in time for a successful next-gen console launch, creating huge improvements in the capabilities of video game performance.
So, as video game consoles continue to advance, they will always need computer chips – and not just any computer chips. As companies strive to create great gaming experiences, they’ll need chips that are up to the task of handling consoles. They will be aiming to reach the best graphics and performance. At Wafer World, our goal is always customer satisfaction. As a leader amongst silicon wafer suppliers, we are always looking to improve even beyond that. We want to push the limits of quality–the better our wafers are, the better products can be made. Are you interested in expertly crafted and tested silicon wafers for your project? We have a wide selection and numerous different grades. Contact us today to get started!