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In Cisco's Material Science and Failure Analysis Lab, a team of engineers works with suppliers and product development teams across the company to find answers and solve problems in every stage of a product's life cycle – from prototyping to manufacturing.
Non-destructive physical analysis of a single memory chip can be done with a sonar-like scanning acoustic microscope where the memory chip is submerged in water. The specialized microscope allows a diagnostic engineer to look deep inside a component.
Having the ability to see the innards of a component's bits and bytes, can give engineers the answers they need to perfect a product.
Equipment like this scanning electron microscope allows engineers to conduct joint analysis on the solder joint metals used to mount multiple silicon chip components, like a memory chip, onto a single package.
With this high-powered microscope, engineers are able to dissect a single joint that measures just 30 microns in width, that is thinner than a single strand of hair. With this data they can better understand how a component is constructed and what problems may arise.
If a problem does arise, in this lab, no piece of the puzzle is too small to help solve it.