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Reverse-engineering the audio amplifier chip in the Nintendo Game Boy Color

The Nintendo Game Boy Color is a handheld game console that was released in 1998. It uses an audio amplifier chip to drive the internal speaker or stereo headphones. In this blog post, I reverse-engineer this chip from die photos and explain how it works.1 It’s essentially three power op-amps with some interesting circuitry inside.

The photo above shows the chip’s silicon die as it appears under a microscope. The white lines are the chip’s metal layer, connecting the components. The silicon itself appears greenish and is underneath the metal. The black circles around the outside are the bond wire connections, where tiny wires connected the silicon die to the chip’s package. Regions of the chip are treated (doped) to change the electrical properties of the silicon. The next sections explain how components are created from these different types of silicon.”

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