Stronger than shortages, he manufactures his own processors in his basement

After “retro gaming”, make way for “retro engineering”. Sam Zeloof, an year-old American, has managed the feat of manufacturing electronic chips with the means at hand, in the garage of his parents.

After having made his first microchip in 2018, when he was still in his last year from high school, the little prodigy has just announced his second % home-made integrated circuit, consisting of 1.200 transistors. It uses a technique used by Intel in the years 1970. With the only (small) difference that if, at the time, the project required the mobilization of the entire firm, he did it all alone.

Installed in his garage in the New Jersey, he built up a small laboratory by buying on eBay and other auction sites a stock of manufacturing equipment dating back to the years 200, 1980 and 1990.

Equipment not always in good condition, but relatively easy to repair compared to current equipment. One of his best finds: a damaged microscope, with a starting value of 200.000 dollars, bought only 1.000 dollars and that it then repaired.

Everything, all alone

Cutting of silicon, modeling with ultraviolet lights: everything is “home-made”, the boy dipping his transistors in acid, for example. “I tell myself that if someone else could do it, I can too, even if it takes me longer”, he explains to Wired.

In his quest, as a pioneer, he puts the electronic engineering with free software sauce. From experimentation to experimentation, he shares his adventure on his YouTube channel and on his blog, where he explains his process in detail, with supporting photos, video and diagrams.

The key element of his electronic chips? Semiconductors. A more or less conductive material, essential for the manufacture of most modern devices. They take the form of very thin plates stacked on top of each other, like microscopic transistors.

Zeloof’s achievements come in the context of a global shortage of semiconductors, which has since blocked several months manufacturing cars or game consoles. Will the future be DIY electronics? In any case, you know what you have to do to tinker with a PS5: set up a lab in the garage.