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Knowledge Center

IC Types

What are the types of integrated circuits?


The integrated circuit (IC) can be broken down into many different types of ICs — and hybrids of those types — all used for specific purposes or across a range of purposes. Some categories have to do with how the chip is designed and manufactured, including general purpose or specific, what is on the chip, whether the chip is reprogrammable, whether it is analog or digital or both, and whether it is memory or logic chip, or both.

How chips handle electricity depends on whether they are analog circuits vs. digital vs. mixed signal.

Logic processors have logic gates (transistors and other components) that control the flow of electricity like a valve. The logic gates in these chips are digital: they use binary (0s and 1s) for on or off states, and logic, such as Boolean logic. This logic makes it possible to use these digital for computation and control. Types of logic processors MPUs, CPUs, MCUs, NPUs, GPUs, DSPs, FGPAs, among others. Programmable ICs, such as FPGAs, eFPGAs, and formerly PLDs, can be reprogrammed after they are in use. Logic accelerators for artificial intelligence are now the rage.

Dedicated memory ICs are made to store data and may have limited logic that helps store and retrieve data from the chip.

Semiconductor designers and manufacturers make ICs as general purpose chips or very specific custom chips. An ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) is chip that is optimized for a single customer or single-purpose and is therefore designed from the ground up to fit into usually one device or type of device and can perform specific calculations for that one purpose.

Also more parts of a system may be put on a chip. Instead of separate logic and memory, for instance, the functions can be mixed onto a System on a Chip (SoC). The SoC is designed necessary to implement an electronic system onto a single substrate and contains at least one processor.  Chiplets and 3D ICs are new configurations for SoCs.

Other theoretical integrated circuits are DNA chips, which may be used for logic or memory. Also quantum computing uses an integrated circuit.

Monolithic vs SiPs
An easy way to think about all the different types of ICs is if the chip is one single die on in a package (monolithic) or multi-die/multiple chips in one package (SiPs, or systems in package).


Multi-Die Integration