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Freshly Fabbed Atari custom chips?


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I'm curious - Not sure if others have seen, but a high school student was recently able to acquire enough parts to actually fab 10 micron chips in his garage:




If you go to his blog or read elsewhere, he says he can do down to 1 micron but would require some kind of a clean room for this: http://sam.zeloof.xyz/maskless-photolithography-with-dlp-projector/


For reference, the Amiga original chipset chips were 5 micron, and I believe even AGA Lisa was 1.5 micron. The Atari custom chips are surely older than 5 micron..


So does this mean there could be some kind of reasonable cost path to eventually re-fab some of the old chips that are irreplaceable? and would that be cheaper than simple/low end FPGAs set up in a compatible pinout?



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In fact, it's not hard to make chips that are on this scale, especially with the relatively low speed they have to run at. I have a long-term goal to re-implement the entire chipset and fabricate chips, but it's somewhat behind the expansion-box idea. I do have an implementation of the 6502 ready to go (that runs at about 90 MHz in an FPGA). I've ported the ASIC tools to the Mac (and contributed back the patches), and there's a facility for getting chips onto an MPW run at efabless.com. This'll get you all the way down to 180nm, or 0.18 micron.


The lower the resolution, the cheaper the run will be, but you can get small runs for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, obviously depending on volume.


The price will in fact be the obvious fly in the ointment, the unit cost for very small runs (<100 pieces) is pretty high. It'd almost certainly not be financially profitable - it'd have to be a vanity project.



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Start with POKEY.




I don't want to give you the wrong idea, it's not on the horizon yet... To strain the analogy possibly beyond breaking, what I've got right now is a set of GPS co-ords... Plus I've never done mixed-signal stuff before, and whereas the 350nm/180nm is ideal for that, it's something new I'm going to have to learn to get anything analogue working...

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