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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hardware Reverse Engineering Techniques

Reverse engineering is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object. The practice, taken from older industries, is now frequently used on computer hardware and software.
Hardware reverse engineering involves taking apart a device to see how it works. In general, hardware reverse engineering requires a great deal of expertise and is quite expensive.

- REFAB (Reverse Engineering - Feature Based)
This tool uses a laser digitizer to scan the part, and the analysis software then analyzes the shape of the part, using features which are based on typical machining operations, to generate a computerized manufacturing description which can be displayed, used to copy the product, or produce new products using the design.

Computer vision has been widely used to scan PCBs for quality control and inspection purposes, and based on this, there are a number of machine vision for analysing and reverse engineering PCBs.

* The first step is to get through the encapsulating material into the product itself, by chemical etching or grinding.
* Once at the chip surface, each layer of components is photographed, then ground away to reveal the layer below. This process reveals the structure of the chip.
* Although these processes can reveal the structure of the chip, they do not indicate the voltages at each point. However, if the chip is undamaged, voltage contrast electron microscopy can be used to scan the chip in use, and watch the voltage level change over time.
These processes are generally referred to as "stripping" or "peeling" the chip.

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