Monday, May 04, 2009

Integrated Circuit

In electronics, an integrated circuit (also known as IC, microcircuit, microchip, silicon chip, or chip) is a miniaturized electronic circuit (consisting mainly of semiconductor devices, as well as passive components) that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Integrated circuits are used in almost all electronic equipment in use today and have revolutionized the world of electronics.

A hybrid integrated circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit constructed of individual semiconductor devices, as well as passive components, bonded to a substrate or circuit board.
This article is about monolithic integrated circuits.

Integrated circuits were made possible by experimental discoveries which showed that semiconductor devices could perform the functions of vacuum tubes, and by mid-20th-century technology advancements in semiconductor device fabrication. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip was an enormous improvement over the manual assembly of circuits using discrete electronic components. The integrated circuit's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors.

There are two main advantages of ICs over discrete circuits: cost and performance. Cost is low because the chips, with all their components, are printed as a unit by photolithography and not constructed one transistor at a time. Furthermore, much less material is used to construct a circuit as a packaged IC die than as a discrete circuit. Performance is high since the components switch quickly and consume little power (compared to their discrete counterparts), because the components are small and close together. As of 2006, chip areas range from a few square mm to around 350 mm², with up to 1 million transistors per mm².

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