What do you get when you cross Micron with Intel?
You get IM Flash Technologies in Lehi, Utah.
You get a building that is over a half mile from one end to the other. They make those silicone chips that are the main part of the memory on your flash drives and mobile devices.
I got to spend the afternoon there today, and again tomorrow. They came to this year’s last meeting of the group I work with (MfA = Math for America) at the University of Utah and invited us down to visit and learn about all the ways they use math at their company.
I learned a lot of stuff about how silicone chips are made, and especially about the quality control and the math involved in quality control. They are looking for defects that are about 1/1,000th the size of a flea. That disc you see above has over 200 124gig chips, and not all of them will be perfect. Even on discs that can be shipped to their parent companies (Micron and Intel), they do a quality control map that will tell which ones are perfect, close to perfect, pretty good and completely useless. The “prefect” ones go into mass storage units, like servers and cloud memory storage. The “pretty good” ones are the ones they put into that $10 flash drive you bought. Yeah, that little flash drive you have your life stored on is made from the inferior chips. That doesn’t mean they are crap, just not up to par with the server ones.
Anyway, we got to go through the quality control area, saw the different processes they use and came close to some really dangerous chemicals they use. Whee! We even had to wear safety goggles.
We didn’t get to go into the actual FAB room (that white room where you have to wear the “bunny suits”, with the constant temperature and filtered air, but we did get to go into a viewing room that was a glassed in part of it. Which meant:
getting on our goggles, latex gloves, little “CSI” booties, a hair net and smock. By the way, he did tell us that if you have bad allergies, the FAB (fabrication) room is the perfect place to work.
Overall, it was quite interesting. Tomorrow we get to work on some projects they came up with for these visits. Total Math-Geek type fun, looking forward to it.
P.S. – the visit started with a great lunch. A good way to start!