Like pretty much every other big conference, the Chaos Communication Conference is going virtual this year. What was supposed to be 37C3 has been rebranded as rC3, the remote Chaos Experience. It’s understandable, as a 17,000 person live event would have not only been illegal but a bit irresponsible in the current environment. The event appears to be a hybrid of small local events hosted in hackerspaces linked with streamed talks and a program of workshops and “online togetherness.” rC3 is slated to run in the week between Christmas and New Year, and it seems like a great way to wrap up 2020.
Speaking of remote conferences, don’t forget about our own Remoticon. While it won’t be quite the same as everyone getting together in sunny — historically, at least — Pasadena for a weekend of actual togetherness, it’s still going to be a great time. The event runs November 6 to 8; we’ve had a sneak peek at the list of proposed workshops and there’s some really cool stuff. Prepare to be dazzled, and make sure you keep up on the Remoticon announcements — you really don’t want to miss this.
There’s been a strange confluence of decapping news this week that we’re all too happy to share. First is a collection of transistor die photos that are simply fascinating. Most of them feature 2N3055 power transistors of various vintages and manufacturing methods. Liberated from their TO-3 cans and driven to breakdown at the base-emitter junction, the dies light up, sometimes frighteningly bright. The innards of a potted Darlington array and 2N1613 on the next page are interesting too.
Continuing the theme, if you haven’t been following Ken Shirriff’s series on reverse-engineering the Intel 8086 microprocessor, you’re missing out on a real treat. Working mostly from die photos, he’s delved into how the Arithmetic-Logic Unit (ALU) of the chip worked, the hows and whys of the separate 16-bit adder, and how power and clocking were handled. He even managed to find a fake 8086 chip during his explorations. We’re learning a ton from these teardowns, as is usual when Ken really dives into a subject.
Our final bit of decapping news comes to us via a fan of Zeptobars, a decapper of some renown whose work we’ve featured on our pages quite a few times. Thanks to COVID-19, he was forced to decamp from Moscow back to Switzerland on short notice back in May, leaving behind most of his elaborate setup for decapping and etching chips. While he’s rebuilding his lab, he’s asking for donations of any surplus metal-capped chips, presumably because they’re easier to pop open and photograph. Maybe we can all dig around in our junk bins and see if we have anything interesting to help him keep the blog going.
And finally, Warped Perception is at it again. We recently covered how he put a GoPro inside a tire and showed what it looks like in there while the car drives around a bit. Then he notched it up a bit and did a burnout with a camera-fied tire, which was interesting for those with a destructive bent. And now he’s gone and stuck a GoPro inside the intake manifold of a turbocharged Toyota Supra, just because. It’s actually pretty interesting — the camera can see not only the massive throttle plate at the front of the manifold but also the velocity stacks feeding into each cylinder. We’re also treated to a look straight into the intake vales of one cylinder, with the barest glimpse of its fuel injector. We were a little puzzled by the reddish fluid leaking into the manifold, as was Warped Perception — engine oil, perhaps? It’s a long way to go to get diagnostic information, but makes for some pretty cool footage.