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Antoine Bercovici & John McMaster at Hardwear USA 2023

Antoine Bercovici & John McMaster

Exploring chip decaping techniques for silicon die inspection and reverse engineering

Workshop Title:

Exploring chip decaping techniques for silicon die inspection and reverse engineering


Integrated circuits have kept their secrets for far too long. Mounted in ceramic carrier at best, or encapsulated in epoxy for worst, recovering a clean silicon die for study can present challenges of varying difficulties. This step is however instrumental in order to study the circuitry for reverse engineering or ROM decoding, and identify manufacturing process and security measures implemented at the silicon level. Establishing a large catalog of silicon die photos is also instrumental in identifying an unknown chip without markings or enigmatic embedded microprocessor architecture by comparison with a reference collection. This workshop aims at exploring the various techniques that can be used to remove chip packaging, such as hot air, rosin/DMSO, nitric/sulphuric acid and fiber laser. Participants of the workshop will be able to try their hand at using the hot air technique which provide excellent results with inexpensive tools and no chemical hazard.

Speaker Bio:

Antoine Bercovici is a micropaleontologist specializing in fossil pollen and spores. He is also an avocational electronic engineer, computer history buff, and collector of microprocessors, integrated circuits and silicon dies. Using his microscopy equipment, Antoine enjoy revealing the beauty and diversity of design hidden in integrated circuits through artistic colourful photographs, and publish on Twitter under the name Siliconinsider.

John McMaster is hardware reverse engineer with a decade of embedded security expertise. He specializes in microcontroller data extraction using lasers, microscopes, and power analysis.