There was an era when software easter eggs became famous, especially in companies where workers were not given the opportunity to show up in game credits and thus receive accreditation for their work. In order to bypass the ban on the part of the directors, the programmers placed Easter eggs, which made the credits appear within the program.
In the case of hardware things is different, the engineers took the credit for the design of their processors, so there is no theoretical need to make Easter eggs. So these are made for the fun of the engineers who design the hardware themselves. But, do they have another use?
Easter eggs in hardware, what is their use?
The Easter eggs in the hardware cannot be seen with the naked eye, for this you need to take a processor, disassemble it completely and use an electron or infrared microscope to explore the structure of the processor. See how the different transistors form logic gates wired together. But suddenly something strange appears, a signature in the form of a drawing on that part of the processor, as if waiting to be found.
These Easter eggs are called Silicon Art or Chip Art. Its implementation has to do with the fact that in 1984 the American Congress made it possible for the chips to be fully copied except for the art included in the processors. This decision was disastrous for many American chipmakers who saw their Japanese counterparts brazenly copying their technology using the same photolithographs.
American law meant that Asian semiconductor manufacturers at that time could not make a lithograph from taking a greatly enlarged photograph of the chip to be copied. Which forced them to reverse engineer when creating a new processor based on new technologies. For many companies, reverse engineering was very expensive, making it more profitable to license the technology to US processors.
Where is Wally? On a microchip
A very famous Easter egg is that of Wally, or Waldo depending on where you are from, the mythical character in picture books based on an image in which we have to look for him. The most veteran readers will remember them. Well, in the MIPS R4000 they included the image of a Wally inside as an Easter egg in the form of silicon art or chip art.
But it is not the only known case, for example the clone of the Intel 80186 manufactured by AMD, the AM186, had an anthropomorphic cucumber inside. Which does not stop being a signature to say the least curious.
And finally, we have the case of the graphic chip of the Nintendo GameCube console, the code name of it was Dolphin and the graphic chip was called Flipper in the name of the dolphin from the cartoon series. But, as you can see, the dolphin is not only found in the code name, but also in the shape of an easter egg.