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   Undertoad  Wednesday May 15 01:43 PM

5/15/2002: micro-art hidden in circuits

Each of the semiconductors in our computers, cell phones, microwaves, etc. is produced by layering semi-conducting silicon and aluminum. The circuits in these chips are meticulously designed, and once in a while a designer will hide a bit of his/her own artwork in the circuit.

These little images and drawings aren't very deep. Chip people aren't typically creative types, and there's not much you can do in this medium. What's special about these signature designs is that they were never meant to be seen. Apparently they are discouraged by the companies that produce the chips. They can only be found if you pore over the actual circuit with a microscope.

Chipworks is a company that does exactly that. They don't do it to find the art - they have other reasons. But they have put up a gallery of the images that they've found. These are little ghosts in the machine, cave drawings for future techno-archeologists.

dave  Wednesday May 15 02:21 PM

If anyone else is a tard like me and can't make out what it is... it's two dolphins. Christ that took me me forever... like an entire minute.

MaggieL  Wednesday May 15 03:18 PM

Re: 5/15/2002: micro-art hidden in circuits

Originally posted by Undertoad
Chip people aren't typically creative types...
I've really known only one. But I thought she was quite creative.

Nic Name  Wednesday May 15 04:01 PM

Geek Wedding Announcement

Click here for the story behind this image.

Click here for a gallery of images embedded in computer chips. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for several of these images.

lawman  Wednesday May 15 07:04 PM

Surprised that nobody else has posted this one yet.....

"When a portion of the Pentium chip is examined under a powerful scanning electron microscope, the phrase "bill sux" is clearly visible, etched into the surface of the chip. "

OKOK, it's not exactly 'art' but then I don't think an arrow and an Interstate 5 sign are art either....

More info here......

<img src="">

The engineers that made this got <a href="">canned</a>. (non-related to topic canned tech worker.....)

hot_pastrami  Wednesday May 15 07:14 PM

The ChipWorks site makes mention of the appearance of this ("bill sux"), but implies that it is untrue, attaching "mythical" to it's reference:

"...or even satirical references to their corporate masters in the cartoonists tradition (e.g. the mythical "bill sux" comment on a Pentium chip)."

Hot Pastrami!

Katkeeper  Wednesday May 15 07:48 PM

art but not Art.

And that's from an artist - or Artist.

dave  Wednesday May 15 10:33 PM

the "bill sux" one is indeed fake. And in a few minutes, when I find it, I'll post proof.

dave  Wednesday May 15 10:35 PM

And here it is...

tw  Thursday May 16 12:52 AM

Microart in Integrated circuits was an article some months back in IEEE Spectrum. Before the law would protect designers, IC designers would etch unique letters or pictures into the IC so that a direct copy theft was obvious and illegal. Once we finally got real laws (such as those that defined reverse engineering), then IC art died - having no purpose.

At least it was suppose to die. Some still put some interesting pictures in their designs - which required passive cooperation with the entire design team.

Intel has a strict rule about no artwork in ICs.

But artwork gets more difficult. Artwork would be circuits that violate design rules. Silicon valley billboards advertise chip verification software. Artwork causes verification programs to cough up the design as failures. Some IC design houses have strict rules that there be no violation of those design verification rules - therefore artwork cannot exist.

But in the olden days: IEEE Spectrum before March had quite a number of artwork examples from ancient history.

russotto  Thursday May 16 03:16 PM

Re: Geek Wedding Announcement

I hope that wedding picture wasn't taken by a professional photographer. They typically retain the copyright on their photos. The image in silicon would then be an unauthorized derivative work, subject to $50,000 - $100,000 in statutory penalties. Multiply that by the number of MIPS R10000 produced and...

(just another bit of silliness brought to you by copyright law.)

sleemanj  Thursday May 16 11:02 PM

In the good ol' days when an Amiga was every geeks dream, computers often contained hidden art.

The first Amiga, the 1000, had the signatures of the design team on the underside of the case lid (i.e disassemble the case to see it). The motherboards of (all?) Amiga's contained references to B52's recordings. I don't have an electron microscope to have a look at good ol' Agnus (graphics chip) but I'll bet there is some hidden art in it somewheres :-)

That's something that PC's never really have/had, that the designer is so proud of thier creation that they put a little piece of themselves into it.

jeni  Friday May 17 01:53 AM

these are really, really cool. i especially thought the one of milhouse was neat.

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