What is an Integrated Circuit?

The integrated circuit, which can be referred to as microelectric circuit, microchip, or chip is known as a semiconductor wafer where the fabrication of millions or thousands of transistors, diodes, capacitors, and resistors takes place. Furthermore, the integrated circuit can serve as the counter, timer, oscillator, amplifier, microprocessor, microcontroller, or logic gate.

In addition, the integrated circuit is the main building block of all the electronic devices of today. It is a system of many interconnected and miniaturized components that are embedded in a thin semiconductor material substrate. This material is usually made of silicon crystal.

One integrated circuit can have millions or thousands of diodes, capacitors, resistors, and transistors. You can also add more components onto it. All these components will be interconnected via a web of different semiconductor wafers, copper, silicon, as well as other materials. With respect to the size, each of the components is usually microscopic and small. The circuit that results, which is a monolithic chip, is tiny as well. Most times, it is just enough in occupying a few square centimeters or millimeters of space.

Computer processors are good examples of today’s integrated circuits. These are usually made of billions or millions of logic gates, capacitors, transistors, etc. They are all connected to form complex digital circuits.

What is the History and the Evolution of the Integrated Circuit?

Integrated Circuit

When transistors were invented in 1947, it paved the way for the modern or today’s computer age. Back then, every resistor had a different plastic package. Also, every circuit is made up of resistors, capacitors, and transistors. As a result of these components’ large size, the early integrated circuits could only hold just a few. These are wired altogether on the printed circuit board.

With time, solid-state electronics department made the reduction of the components’ size easier. Late in the 1950s, two investors, Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby or Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation and Texas Instruments Inc, discovered some ways of laying the thin paths of the metal on different devices and make them play a role as wires. This solution they provided for wiring in-between these small devices made the beginning of modern integrated circuit possible.

The Construction and Design of the Modern Integrated Circuit

For the last five decades, there has been an enormous progress in integrated circuits wit smaller sizes, greater capacity, and faster speeds.

In contrast to early days, the integrated circuits of today are complex and can hold billions of different transistors, as well as other components on one piece of material. This modern integrated circuit is all in one piece with the individual components all embedded directly in the silicon crystal instead of mounting on it.

The IC relies on many abstraction levels. The wafer which makes the integrated circuit is usually fragile and it has many intricate connections in-between its layers. These wafers combinations are also called a die.

With billions or millions of components on just one chip, you will not be able to connect and position every component individually. Also, you cannot connect to or solder these dies, because they are extremely small. Rather than do this, designers make use of a programming language to help in creating the small circuit elements. Next, they combine them to increase the density and size of the chip’s components to meet the requirements of the application.

Also, you can package the integrated circuit to turn this tiny and delicate die in the black chip. This is what forms the foundation or basis of the devices. These include network switches, amplifiers, airplanes and cars, smartphones and mobile phones, network switches, and computers. Also, you will find them in other electronic devices like microwaves, toasters, televisions, washing machines, etc.

What are the Different Types of an Integrated Circuit?

Full pcb manufacturing

Integrated circuits could be digital, analog (linear), or could be the combination of both. This depends on the intended application.

Linear or Analog Integrated Circuit

The linear or analog integrated circuits possess a continuous variable output. This depends on the level of input signal. Theoretically speaking, such integrated circuits can have infinite states. With this type of integrated circuit, the level of the output signal is the input signal level’s linear function. Ideally, whenever you graph this instantaneous output against your instantaneous input, the resulting plot usually has a straight line.

Analog Integrated Circuit

The Analog integrated circuit usually makes use of just some components are simple in nature. The linear ICs are useful as a radio-frequency and audio-frequency amplifier. This operational amplifier is a very common device present in all these applications. Temperature sensor is another well-known application of the analog integrated circuit. You can program the linear ICs to turn different devices off or on immediately the signal gets to a specific value. These include heaters, air conditioners, and ovens.

In contrast to the analog integrated circuit, the digital type doesn’t function over a range of different signal amplitudes. Instead, they function just at a discrete or few defined states or levels. These digital integrated circuits are the logic gates that function with the binary data.

The digital integrated circuit is now used in many applications. These include modems, enterprise networks, frequency counters, and computers.

Mixed Integrated Circuits

The mixed integrated circuit integrates both the digital and analog design principles. This may act as a timer/clock integrated circuit, an analog-to-digital converter and a digital-to-analog converter.

What Components are Present in the Integrated Circuit?

The integrated circuit assembly is made up of different active and passive devices that are fashioned on just one wafer. Some common components present in the integrated circuit include the following.

Capacitors

This is a passive two-terminal electrical energy device for storage, which operates in the electric field. The capacitance helps in describing the effect of the capacitor in adding the capacitance to the integrated circuit.

Diodes

Diodes are electrical components having the terminal pairing which exhibits the uni-directional flow of current in the integrated circuit. With the diode, in one direction, you will have just a little resistance, while in the other, there will be a high resistance.

Transistor

The transistor is the semiconductor device, which switches or amplifies the electrical signals present in the integrated circuit assembly. The transistor usually has a triple configuration for the terminal that helps in connecting to electronic circuits.

Resistors

Resistors are passive electrical components having a specific terminal pair that implements the electrical resistance in the integrated circuit. The resistors will allow the reduction of current flow and divide the voltages. Also, it helps in adjusting the signal levels, as well as end the transmission lines present in the circuit.

The Microprocessor and the Integrated Circuit

DSP FPGA

Microprocessors are the most complex types of the integrated circuit. It can handle lots of operations (billions) in just one second. In these computing devices, the microprocessor has the CPU that runs the computer or the GPU (graphics processing unit) that specializes in rendering video and images. One microprocessor has many interconnected transistors (billions). Every one of these performs a logic function with respect to the clock’s instructions.

Anytime the clock changes its state, the Transistors usually perform some logic functions that they are already programmed to offer. The clock’s frequency will determine how fast these functions are.

In addition, these microprocessors contain different types of predetermined memory registers or location which stores information.

  • Temporary register: This helps in storing numbers that needs you to operate on, as well as the results of the operation
  • Permanent register: This helps in storing preprogrammed instructions to serve different operations.
  • Stack pointer: This has the address of the last-imputed instruction in the stack memory
  • Counter: This has the next instruction’s memory address
  • Memory address register: This is the address or location of the data that you want to work on.

How Does the Integrated Circuit Work?

The integrated circuit works just like the microprocessor, oscillator, or timer. The components (about hundred of them) present in the integrated circuit carries out different functions so as to achieve a particular process.

Logic gates that function in the binary form find its use in the integrated circuits. Low signals that are sent onto the component through a digital integrated circuit delivers a value of zero. High signals, on the other hand, give a value of one.

Linear and analog integrated circuit assemblies possess permanent values. The same way different electronic components are connected onto the linear integrated circuit can make use of any value and also output another value.

Packages Useful During the Integrated Circuit Assembly

When it comes to integrated circuit assemblies, you can find the application of two different packages. These include the through-hole mount and the surface mount.

Through-Hole Mount

This has lead pins, which are soldered on one of the sides and then secured on the board’s reverse side. The through-hole are large packages and are usually used in balancing the cost constraints and the board space.

Surface Mount

Surface mount packaging engages the mounting technology making use of small integrated circuit assemblies. Here, you will attach the integrated circuits on the board’ surface through some board areas referred to as solder pads.

What is the Difference between the Integrated Circuit and the Printed Circuit Board?

The integrated circuit is usually embedded on the PCB (printed circuit board) through the process of soldering. Therefore, you will observe that the printed circuit board serves as the carrier of the integrated circuit assembly.

The printed circuit board also offers an electrical connection to the components, thereby permitting some specific functionality.

Furthermore, the integrated circuit is known as the loaded component that is made to deliver a specific function. This means that you can refer to the integrated circuit as one chip having the general purpose circuit.

This is a complete or full package that usually fails anytime there is an internal damage. In contrast, you will be able to connect the different components onto the printed circuit board. Also, anytime it is broken, you can replace them.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Integrated Circuit

The integrated circuit is a silicon wafer, which you can use as a timer, microprocessor, computer memory, amplifier, counter, or oscillator. You will find these advantages and disadvantages when using the integrated circuit.

Advantages

Here are the advantages of the integrated circuit

  • Anytime there is a failure, you can replace the integrated circuit assembly easily
  • Integrated circuits are very small and usually depends more on the consumption of low power
  • Where capacitance and parasitic effects are no more present, you can boost the speed of the integrated circuit
  • When operating tiny signals, the integrated circuits are ideal with a greater capacity to function in very high temperature environments
  • You make some benefits from the matching of close component as well as a coefficient of temperature as a result of bulk production

Disadvantages

Here are the disadvantages of the integrated circuit

  • When one of the components of the integrated circuit fails, you will have to replace the whole circuit
  • You can only operate the integrated circuit with a particular amount or quantity of power
  • It is very difficult to achieve a low temperature coefficient
  • In integrated circuit assemblies, it is impossible to create indicators or coils
  • Achieving high voltage for the operation and achieving low noise is difficult
  • It produces limited power, thereby necessitating extension
  • The power dissipation will not be able to exceed 10 watts when maintaining the operation at a low voltage

Conclusion

One thing is sure; integrated circuits have made sure that our lives become better. Our laptop computer of today is many times much stronger. Also, it is around 100 times smaller compared to the first-ever computer that was created during the 1940s. ENIAC had a similar size to about 3 – 4 double decker buses and ran using eighteen thousand vacuum tubes. It’s an understatement when we say it’s been a long road to success. The integrated circuit is one important part that has made this a reality.

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