Silicone on Sapphire
03-10-2016, 12:39 PM
Post: #1
 Duane Hess Member Posts: 106 Joined: Mar 2014
Silicone on Sapphire
Recalling "old info" does anyone remember HP brochures featuring their Silicone on Sapphire technology?

In high school I had a 55 (45?) brochure featuring usage of the technology in their chipsets. With highly magnified closeups of the silicone chip. Although I'll swear it pictured red specs instead of blue. ..... maybe my memory is going colorblind along with senile.

(wish I still had the brochure)
03-10-2016, 01:40 PM
Post: #2
 smp Senior Member Posts: 425 Joined: Jul 2015
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-10-2016 12:39 PM)Duane Hess Wrote:  Recalling "old info" does anyone remember HP brochures featuring their Silicone on Sapphire technology?

I will apologize up front for this...

I am ROFL because all I can see in my mind is a silicon wafer with breast implants!

;-)

smp
03-10-2016, 03:44 PM (This post was last modified: 03-10-2016 03:59 PM by jebem.)
Post: #3
 jebem Senior Member Posts: 1,328 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-10-2016 12:39 PM)Duane Hess Wrote:  Recalling "old info" does anyone remember HP brochures featuring their Silicone on Sapphire technology?

Well, surely you meant "silicon-on-sapphire", right?
Searching on google for it returns a lot of information.

However, as eagerly SMP pointed out, silicone on sapphire may have a different meaning

I believe that HP did not invented SOS technology.
According to this paper, that honor belongs to North American Aviation in 1963.

For example, this HP journal from 1978 refers the First HP Product to Use Silicon-on-Sapphire Technology. Also this one here.

Jose Mesquita

03-11-2016, 12:49 AM
Post: #4
 Duane Hess Member Posts: 106 Joined: Mar 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
OMG!!!

Now I get it; didn't even notice. Yes, I intended to say 'silicon'.

tsk, tsk, tsk.... no wonder I get slapped so much & am so lonely!
03-11-2016, 01:31 AM
Post: #5
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,529 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-10-2016 01:40 PM)smp Wrote:
(03-10-2016 12:39 PM)Duane Hess Wrote:  Recalling "old info" does anyone remember HP brochures featuring their Silicone on Sapphire technology?

I will apologize up front for this...

I am ROFL because all I can see in my mind is a silicon wafer with breast implants!

;-)

smp

That was the sequel to Weird Science, wasn't it?
03-11-2016, 01:44 AM
Post: #6
 Jlouis Senior Member Posts: 650 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-11-2016 12:49 AM)Duane Hess Wrote:  OMG!!!

Now I get it; didn't even notice. Yes, I intended to say 'silicon'.

tsk, tsk, tsk.... no wonder I get slapped so much & am so lonely!

that was very, very good!!!!
03-11-2016, 05:53 PM
Post: #7
 jebem Senior Member Posts: 1,328 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-11-2016 12:49 AM)Duane Hess Wrote:  tsk, tsk, tsk.... no wonder I get slapped so much & am so lonely!

Thanks to bring this SOS technology to our attention.

Talking about loneliness and highly resilient technology to be used in deed space, I can't resist to copy here this small statement from the above Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation publication:

"The farthest man-made object from the earth,
the Voyager 1 spacecraft, has an RCA-built SOS
microprocessor aboard it. It was launched in 1977
and left our solar system in 2003. As of January
2006 it was 14 billion kilometers from earth and still
functioning
"

Jose Mesquita

03-12-2016, 03:03 AM (This post was last modified: 03-12-2016 03:04 AM by jjohnson873.)
Post: #8
 jjohnson873 Member Posts: 158 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-11-2016 05:53 PM)jebem Wrote:
(03-11-2016 12:49 AM)Duane Hess Wrote:  tsk, tsk, tsk.... no wonder I get slapped so much & am so lonely!

Thanks to bring this SOS technology to our attention.

Talking about loneliness and highly resilient technology to be used in deed space, I can't resist to copy here this small statement from the above Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation publication:

"The farthest man-made object from the earth,
the Voyager 1 spacecraft, has an RCA-built SOS
microprocessor aboard it. It was launched in 1977
and left our solar system in 2003. As of January
2006 it was 14 billion kilometers from earth and still
functioning
"

I worked for RCA when they were manufacturing SOS technology in their Findlay, OH wafer fab. It was often used in space applications since it was resistant to SEU (single event upset) and it was a very low power process. The RCA CDP1802 8-bit microcontroller was used in many space applications and was, at the time, one of the very few SOS microcontrollers that also was capable of low power. Some of you may even remember that this microcontroller had a FORTH compiler and the people who used FORTH swore by its efficiency. It was probably the only micro that had a SEX instruction in assembly (selects one of the 16 registers to be an index register).
~ Jim J. ~
Post: #9
 BarryMead Senior Member Posts: 416 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-12-2016 03:03 AM)jjohnson873 Wrote:  I worked for RCA when they were manufacturing SOS technology in their Findlay, OH wafer fab. It was often used in space applications since it was resistant to SEU (single event upset) and it was a very low power process.
I remember the RCA 1802 "COSMAC" microprocessor. I designed many hardware devices using that CPU. It was fast, low power, reliable, and cost effective.
To call a subroutine you really just changed a 4-bit pointer that named a different one of the 16 general purpose registers as the Program Counter, and returning from the subroutine popped the original 4-bit value back so Subroutine nesting was very limited, but it was a novel simplistic innovative design concept that was hard to forget.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
03-12-2016, 05:27 AM
Post: #10
 Paul Dale Senior Member Posts: 1,643 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
I've admired name tag project for a while. It uses one RCA 1802, a few extra components and you get a small message board -- all without any RAM or ROM, yet it is running a program of sorts.

Pauli
03-13-2016, 12:57 PM
Post: #11
 BillCRAV Junior Member Posts: 6 Joined: Mar 2016
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-11-2016 05:53 PM)jebem Wrote:
(03-11-2016 12:49 AM)Duane Hess Wrote:  tsk, tsk, tsk.... no wonder I get slapped so much & am so lonely!

Thanks to bring this SOS technology to our attention.

Talking about loneliness and highly resilient technology to be used in deed space, I can't resist to copy here this small statement from the above Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation publication:

"The farthest man-made object from the earth,
the Voyager 1 spacecraft, has an RCA-built SOS
microprocessor aboard it. It was launched in 1977
and left our solar system in 2003. As of January
2006 it was 14 billion kilometers from earth and still
functioning
"

Note that that statement is in error.

Members of the Yahoo COSMAC ELF group have verified that ONLY the Galileo spacecraft used the 1802.
Neither Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, nor any other spacecraft, used the 1802.
(the Space Shuttle MIGHT have used one in one of its systems)
There are a few Earth-orbiting satellites that used the 1802. (OSCAR?, ...)

CRAV Computing Hobbyist
http://www.MDCCCII.com/
Post: #12
 BarryMead Senior Member Posts: 416 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-13-2016 12:57 PM)BillCRAV Wrote:  (the Space Shuttle MIGHT have used one in one of its systems)
As part of the team who designed the Shuttle's Secure Communications Systems, I can confirm that the Pre-launch Ground Team used a device with an 1802 to load the top secret encryption keys into the secure communications systems aboard the shuttle. The 1802 controlled "Electronic Fill Device", as it was called, did not actually go into space, however.
03-13-2016, 06:53 PM (This post was last modified: 03-13-2016 07:20 PM by jebem.)
Post: #13
 jebem Senior Member Posts: 1,328 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-13-2016 12:57 PM)BillCRAV Wrote:
(03-11-2016 05:53 PM)jebem Wrote:  Thanks to bring this SOS technology to our attention.

Talking about loneliness and highly resilient technology to be used in deed space, I can't resist to copy here this small statement from the above Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation publication:

"The farthest man-made object from the earth,
the Voyager 1 spacecraft, has an RCA-built SOS
microprocessor aboard it. It was launched in 1977
and left our solar system in 2003. As of January
2006 it was 14 billion kilometers from earth and still
functioning
"

Note that that statement is in error.

Members of the Yahoo COSMAC ELF group have verified that ONLY the Galileo spacecraft used the 1802.
Neither Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, nor any other spacecraft, used the 1802.
(the Space Shuttle MIGHT have used one in one of its systems)
There are a few Earth-orbiting satellites that used the 1802. (OSCAR?, ...)

If you read the above statement carefully, you will see that there is no mention to the RCA 1802 processor. The article's author just mention "RCA-built SOS
microprocessor " without going to deep details.

We cannot imply from his words that he claimed that a 1802 was used in the Voyager.

Additionally, the article author is an accredited person working on SOS technology since the NOSC era, so I have no reason to doubt his words.
Here is the information extracted from that article::
George Imthurn is a Device Engineer for Peregrine Semiconductor
Corporation, a manufacturer of UltraCMOS-based RFICs. During
his tenure at Peregrine he has contributed to the basic understanding
of SOS and worked on improving the radiation hardness of the
UltraCMOS process. Before joining Peregrine he worked on SOS at
the Naval Ocean Systems Center. George received his BS at Pacific
Union College and his MSEE at San Diego State University. His
thesis work was on guided wave optics
.

Jose Mesquita

03-13-2016, 08:51 PM
Post: #14
 Steve Simpkin Senior Member Posts: 452 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
I did not realize that the 1802 was still availble through Intersil for military and space applications. At $146 in 1k quantities and given its 3.6MHz maximum clock rate, it probably is not the best choice for the hobbyist... 03-13-2016, 11:52 PM Post: #15  BillCRAV Junior Member Posts: 6 Joined: Mar 2016 RE: Silicone on Sapphire (03-13-2016 08:51 PM)Steve Simpkin Wrote: I did not realize that the 1802 was still availble through Intersil for military and space applications. At$146 in 1k quantities and given its 3.6MHz maximum clock rate, it probably is not the best choice for the hobbyist...

You can get them much cheaper than that in single and small quantities.
They are still quite affordable.
Many are "new surplus" and the like.

There is a burgeoning 1802 hobbyist community as part of the "very large"
CRAV Computing community. (Classic / Retro / Antique / Vintage)

They are very slow compared to today's microprocessors and microcontrollers.
So they are mostly only good for very specialized applications, existing systems maintenance,
and retro-computing.

CRAV Computing Hobbyist
http://www.MDCCCII.com/
03-14-2016, 12:25 AM
Post: #16
 BillCRAV Junior Member Posts: 6 Joined: Mar 2016
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-13-2016 06:53 PM)jebem Wrote:  If you read the above statement carefully, you will see that there is no mention to the RCA 1802 processor. The article's author just mention "RCA-built SOS
microprocessor " without going to deep details.

We cannot imply from his words that he claimed that a 1802 was used in the Voyager.

Additionally, the article author is an accredited person working on SOS technology since the NOSC era, so I have no reason to doubt his words.
Here is the information extracted from that article::
George Imthurn is a Device Engineer for Peregrine Semiconductor
Corporation, a manufacturer of UltraCMOS-based RFICs. During
his tenure at Peregrine he has contributed to the basic understanding
of SOS and worked on improving the radiation hardness of the
UltraCMOS process. Before joining Peregrine he worked on SOS at
the Naval Ocean Systems Center. George received his BS at Pacific
Union College and his MSEE at San Diego State University. His
thesis work was on guided wave optics
.

True about his implication. More or less. Kind of, but it partly depends on definitions, and interpretations.

Also, his particulars do not mean that he cannot make a mistake, misremember, misspeak, and/or be misquoted.

The only "RCA-built SOS microprocessor" at that time (I'm pretty sure ever) was the CDP1802,
which came to fruition too late to be used in the Voyager spacecraft (I & II), but was around to be used in the later Galileo.

It could depend on your definition of "microprocessor", which generally refers to a single-chip
integrated circuit, but could also mean "a few ICs".

For example, from Wikipedia: "A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the
functions of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit (IC),
or at most a few integrated circuits."

It is known from the specifications that the Voyagers used the rad-hardened versions of the 4000 series ICs
(CMOS/low power), which were NOT "highly integrated", and so it required that MANY IC's be used to
create a computer system with them.

They were "simple" function IC's that included adders, analog switches, buffers, counters, flip-flops,
latches, logic gates, multiplexers, demultiplexers, encoders, decoders, shift registers, timers,
translators, and 7-segment decoders.

None of which come close to being a "microprocessor", but which can be used to build one, although,
again, it would take MANY of them, not just a few. So it would be better-termed a "computer" or "microcomputer".

Also from Wikipedia: "It has been erroneously reported on the Internet that the Voyager space probes
were controlled by a version of the RCA 1802 (RCA CDP1802 "COSMAC" microprocessor), but such
claims are not supported by the primary design documents. The CDP1802 microprocessor was used
later in the Galileo space probe, which was designed and built years later. The digital control electronics
of the Voyagers were not based on a microprocessor but on a specially designed set of RCA CD4000
standard transistor-transistor logic (TTL) integrated circuits."

So the wording of "RCA-built SOS microprocessor" is actually incorrect, because RCA did not
build the "microprocessor" (afaik), but their components were used in its construction.

Of course, much of the documentation and history has been lost, so who knows how instrumental RCA
was in working with the Voyager team(s). it is possible that they "built the system" from specification,
but in my fairly exhaustive research on the subject, i have found no information regarding that reality.
And that would have been something to be proud of and proclaim, since it would have been a HUGE feather
in RCA's cap, instead of just their components being used, which was also a nice feather in its own right.

CRAV Computing Hobbyist
http://www.MDCCCII.com/
03-14-2016, 02:01 AM
Post: #17
 Accutron Member Posts: 111 Joined: Aug 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
In case anybody's interested, here are a few photos of RCA flat packs from the era. The first two ICs are CD4000 series, and the third IC is currently unidentified. They are all aerospace components, likely castoff from WPAFB.

03-14-2016, 08:14 AM
Post: #18
 jebem Senior Member Posts: 1,328 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-14-2016 12:25 AM)BillCRAV Wrote:  The only "RCA-built SOS microprocessor" at that time (I'm pretty sure ever) was the CDP1802, which came to fruition too late to be used in the Voyager spacecraft (I & II), but was around to be used in the later Galileo.

A simple search show that RCA had at least another microprocessor commercially released as a kit in early 1975: the COSMAC 1801 on which the 1802 was based and released one year later in 1976.

Concerning release dates, this page here have plenty of it and based on actual support documentation.

(03-14-2016 12:25 AM)BillCRAV Wrote:  It is known from the specifications that the Voyagers used the rad-hardened versions of the 4000 series ICs (CMOS/low power), which were NOT "highly integrated", and so it required that MANY IC's be used to create a computer system with them.

Is it acceptable that actually discrete 4000 CMOS series were used instead of an already commercially available SOS microprocessor to build that computer?
Yes, it is (I did it in mid 70's as well for a school project), but this is kind of speculative until someone comes up with the actual official papers showing us what was the actual technology used in that spacecraft.

Also, SOS technology was being developed at that time to be used for the military and space applications in some kind of secrecy, way before it was commercially available to the general public.
In the end what we can read in the Internet is mostly noise.

Jose Mesquita

03-14-2016, 10:43 AM
Post: #19
 BillCRAV Junior Member Posts: 6 Joined: Mar 2016
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-14-2016 08:14 AM)jebem Wrote:
(03-14-2016 12:25 AM)BillCRAV Wrote:  The only "RCA-built SOS microprocessor" at that time (I'm pretty sure ever) was the CDP1802, which came to fruition too late to be used in the Voyager spacecraft (I & II), but was around to be used in the later Galileo.

A simple search show that RCA had at least another microprocessor commercially released as a kit in early 1975: the COSMAC 1801 on which the 1802 was based and released one year later in 1976.

Concerning release dates, this page here have plenty of it and based on actual support documentation.

(03-14-2016 12:25 AM)BillCRAV Wrote:  It is known from the specifications that the Voyagers used the rad-hardened versions of the 4000 series ICs (CMOS/low power), which were NOT "highly integrated", and so it required that MANY IC's be used to create a computer system with them.

Is it acceptable that actually discrete 4000 CMOS series were used instead of an already commercially available SOS microprocessor to build that computer?
Yes, it is (I did it in mid 70's as well for a school project), but this is kind of speculative until someone comes up with the actual official papers showing us what was the actual technology used in that spacecraft.

Also, SOS technology was being developed at that time to be used for the military and space applications in some kind of secrecy, way before it was commercially available to the general public.
In the end what we can read in the Internet is mostly noise.

The 1801 dual-chip was basically the "development version" of the 1802, and afaik was NEVER made as SOS. Afaik, NO ONE used it commercially.

It's NOT speculative that 4000 CMOS were used in the Voyagers. It is in the design specs and documentation, which were worked on "WAY before" the 1802 was commercially available, especially when using it would have been "bleeding edge" development, which is NOT what NASA et al. did.

"SOS technology was being developed at that time to be used for the military and space applications in some kind of secrecy, way before it was commercially available to the general public." is EXTREMELY speculative and most probably untrue.

CRAV Computing Hobbyist
http://www.MDCCCII.com/
03-14-2016, 03:01 PM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2016 04:21 PM by Accutron.)
Post: #20
 Accutron Member Posts: 111 Joined: Aug 2014
RE: Silicone on Sapphire
(03-14-2016 08:14 AM)jebem Wrote:  Is it acceptable that actually discrete 4000 CMOS series were used instead of an already commercially available SOS microprocessor to build that computer?
Yes, it is (I did it in mid 70's as well for a school project), but this is kind of speculative until someone comes up with the actual official papers showing us what was the actual technology used in that spacecraft.

Also, SOS technology was being developed at that time to be used for the military and space applications in some kind of secrecy, way before it was commercially available to the general public.
In the end what we can read in the Internet is mostly noise.

The Voyager probes had multiple computers onboard. Two of the machines were General Electric discrete TTL minicomputers with plated-wire memory, using a byte-serial architecture first built for Viking. A third minicomputer was built in discrete CMOS. These facts are thoroughly documented and not open to speculation.

It is unlikely that NASA used the CDP1802 or any other microprocessor prior to it being commercially available. They tend to use hardware that is already proven in battle. Military/space computer technology often lags behind commercial use by a decade or more, and they prefer to use ruggedized versions of old stuff. Given the development timelines of the COSMAC processors and Voyager, it's basically impossible that Voyager used a CDP1802 or anything similar.

Coming back to something mentioned earlier, the CDP1802 was definitely used aboard the STS, although not in a central processing role. It was used as a display driver IIRC. Those systems were all replaced with newer hardware in the 1990s.

Edit: Typed bit, meant byte.
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