Loving C++11 syntactic sugar

Isn't that beautiful?
vector<Image> images;
for (auto& img : images)      //!!!
  //Do something
  img.write( img.fileName() + ".debug.jpg" ); 
Life was so hard in pre-11 times...
April 13, 2013

300mm wafers arrived

Received 2x 300mm silicon wafers with microchips. I was really scared to receive a bag of shattered silicon - but they were packaged in special "wafer shipper", and hence intact. This is how most modern microchips looks like after manufacturing, but before dicing & packaging.

Why I bought it? I was curious and it's just beautiful :-)
Now there are 3x 300mm wafers in Russia: 2 are mine, and 1 is on exhibit at Mikron

April 13, 2013

Made in USA

Received bunch of good old "Made in USA" military microchips (late 80's) for decapsulation & photography. Still an open question how they got into Soviet Union back then?

April 5, 2013

Thin-film interference under microscope

Noticed interesting thing: Thin-film interference under microscope as alcohol evaporates on the surface of microchip.

April 2, 2013

Mikron fab

Visited Mikron fab in Zelenograd including 180nm and 90nm microelectronic manufacturing lines, the most advanced in Russia at the moment.

The only photo I can publish at the moment without going through censorship is decorative flash drive

March 9, 2013

Received bunch of relatively rare Soviet processors

Mostly Z80, LSI-11 and 8086 compatible ones. Will check what's inside soon ;-)
February 25, 2013

Got NBC suit for 23'th of February

Got NBC suit (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) for 23'th of February - Defender of the Fatherland Day.
February 23, 2013

Part II: How to «open» microchip and what's inside? Z80, Multiclet, MSP430, PIC and more

In this article I'll continue opening microchipsю If you've missed first article - it's here.

Inside you can find internals of K565RU5, Z80, KR580VM80A, MSP430F122, PIC16C505, PIC12C508, Russian rad-hard microcontroller 1886VE10, STM32F103VGT6, 556 timer, new RFID chip from Moscow's metro and Multiclet.

Also there is a short description of more "canonical" way of chip decapping, which would leave bond wires intact.

Read more on zeptobars.ru →
February 17, 2013

Finally was able to take a photo of Jupiter

After many weeks of bad weather in Moscow I finally was able to take a photo of Jupiter with my 500m/F8 mirror lens.

To the left side of Jupiter - Europa and Io, to the right - Ganymede. Callisto was very faint, and didn't fit into the frame (that's because it has albedo 0.22 compared to 0.63-0.67 for Europa and Io). Current distance to Jupiter is 685 million of kilometers.

I had to tune brightness curves separately for Jupiter and it's moons because Jupiter was too bright.

February 1, 2013

Filed application for my project "Zeptobars" to Skolkovo

The idea of the project is to design and manufacture (on existing fabs) general purpose microcontrollers (just like AVR, PIC, STM32 and others), but of course better and cheaper That is the reason I was doing decapping of various microchips last months - I needed to find out cost of manufacturing of existing products to see if it's commercially viable.

Why microcontrollers and not "yet another innovative IT startup"? I believe market is full of IT startups, and business in adjacent areas is more viable. Days of offsore software development which I was heavily involved in are numbered - mainly due to rapidly closing gap of salaries of good developers between US and Russia. Only large and well-established offshore development companies would survive what's coming.

Few words about Skolkovo

Contrary to popular belief (in Russia), Skolkovo is not an magic box full of government money. Being Skolkovo resident (if I would manage to get one) only means that you can pay less taxes for some time, and less hassle dealing with customs. The trade-off is more bureaucracy (Skolkovo controls every ruble you spend) and certain limitations (project must be executed in Russia, there are some legal things which you would not be allowed to do).

They don't really give all the money to the "poor innovators"- according to their grant policy, without co-investing they can invest 5 mln. roubles max (~125k$), larger sums require co-investor who would invest 25-75% of the total budget. This is understandable - 100% government funding is prone to corruption and would yield companies which are not ready for the world-market.

So, effectively Skolkovo is just a "sweetener" for usual investors - they throw in fraction of the money, offer some cooperation, but do not get any ownership in the company.

Let's see how it would work
January 22, 2013