Last updated: August 18, 2021

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In the age of technology and automation, there are several components that are essential to make everything work the way you want it to. One of them is the integrated circuit, item that we are going to talk about today.

Consisting of several types of electronic components inside, this product is small and ideal to be installed in boards of various electronic devices, providing them with timing commands, amplification and more. And if you are in this area and are looking for more knowledge about the integrated circuit, or want to find out which is the best, continue with us. In this article we will unpack every detail about the integrated circuit.




Summary

  • Integrated circuits come in various sizes and are made up of resistors, transistors and capacitors.
  • They can be installed in various types of devices and are present in clocks, calculators, timers, radios and more.
  • The main advantage of this item is that it can perform several functions that would need many other components to be performed.

The Best Integrated Circuit: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Integrated circuits are small, very powerful devices that have several components inside, and thanks to this they are able to perform multiple functions in watches, radios, computers and many other electronic devices.

They exist in different versions and which one to choose depends a lot on what the circuit will be used for. It is to show you everything about it that we have prepared this very complete buying guide. So, if you are interested in buying an integrated circuit, just read to the end.

Na foto um homem soldando uma placa eletrônica, sentado em uma mesa.

The integrated circuit can be used in the composition of electronic boards for various devices. (Source: Andor Bujdoso / 123RF)

What is an integrated circuit?

The integrated circuit, also called a chip, is an electronic circuit composed of several components installed in a single piece of silicon.

They are available in various shapes and sizes.

They can perform a number of functions and are therefore widely used in industry. Thanks to this, the integrated circuit can be installed on the board in two ways. The first is the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) or Surface Mount Device (SMD), in which it stays on its surface, and the second is the Thru Hole, or PTH, in which its terminals go through the board.

What are the main components of the integrated circuit?

The integrated circuit may often be small, but it is made up of a number of components that allow it to function perfectly. Externally, it has a plastic cover, which protects its internal parts and dissipates the heat produced by them.

It also has metal pins which are used to connect the circuit to a board. These pins have two functions, to receive the electrical signal and allow it to pass into the interior of the product, and make it so that after the work is done internally this signal returns to the board where it will perform the function.

Internally, the integrated circuit is composed of microcircuits that through their paths and substrates define the direction that the current will pass inside the product and it is connected to a series of components responsible for making it work, such as

  • Capacitor: The capacitor is a part that has two terminals and is composed of insulators and conductors, storing the integrated circuit's energy.
  • Transistor: the transistor is a semiconductor which has three terminals capable of switching and amplifying an electronic signal.
  • Resistor: The resistor works as a protection of the integrated circuit and it consists of two terminals that create a resistance for the electric current, limiting its flow.

Na foto diversos circuitos integrados instalados em uma placa eletrônica.

There are different sizes and models of integrated circuit, but practically all have the same composition. (Source: Pixabay / Pexels)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an integrated circuit?

The integrated circuit is a very versatile product that can be installed in radios, computers, timers and more. This is due to the fact that it can perform the most diverse functions in a very simple and efficient way.

Did you know that another positive point of this item is that it is able to reduce the need to have several components installed on the board, since it by itself can perform an action in which several other electrical parts would be required, thus being a facilitator

In addition, integrated circuits promote a reduction in costs, weight and size of the product, have a great working speed, have low power consumption and reduce assembly errors, since many components are in only one piece.

On the negative side, integrated circuits have low power dissipation and limited operating voltages. Another negative point is that it is not possible to integrate coils or inductances. It should also be noted that their installation may be a little difficult for those who do not know electronics.

Advantages
  • They perform several functions
  • They are small
  • They have low price
  • They have low power consumption
  • They generate reduction in costs, weight and size of the product
  • They work with great speed
  • They decrease assembly errors
Disadvantages
  • Reduced dissipation power
  • The operating voltage is limited
  • Knowledge of electronics is required to use them

What functions can the integrated circuit perform?

The main function of an integrated circuit is to carry out complex actions that could not be performed by a single component. Thus, it can serve as a timer, oscillator, amplifier, controller and much more.

However, it is not simple to design one of these, and for it to work properly, a thorough process is necessary, in which the function it will have is first determined.

Then a drawing of the electronic circuit is made and once ready this drawing is passed to a silicon plate by photolithography and is installed in the structure of the electronic circuit. After that all the components are soldered to the board and its capsule is closed.

Na foto um circuito integrado instalado em uma placa eletrônica.

The smallest integrated circuits are the cheapest and cost a few cents. (Source: Skitterphoto / Pexels)

Purchase Criteria: Factors to compare the integrated circuit options

Now that you have learned everything about integrated circuits it is time to choose the best one for you and for that we have separated the main points that you should take into consideration so as not to make a mistake.

  • Type of integrated circuit
  • Analog or digital
  • Integrated circuit classification
  • Power

Below you will find a detailed explanation of each of these factors.

Type of integrated circuit

As you have seen, integrated circuits can perform several functions and which one to choose depends on what you want it to do in your electronic product. An example of this is the integrated circuit 555, which has 8 terminals and its main functionality is to generate oscillations in the place where it is installed, and this place can be a stopwatch.

With that said, before making any purchase it is important to determine if you are looking for a timer, amplifier and so on to choose yours. And it is important to know that there is a specific spreadsheet where you can find this information, so if you are not intimate with this area is worth consulting it.

Na foto um relógio digital preto com os números em vermelho.

In digital clocks you can use the integrated circuit 555 for the stopwatch. (Source: Brett Sayles / Pexels)

Analog or digital

There are also digital integrated circuits and linear or analog. The analog ones are responsible for producing continuous signals according to what arrives in their inputs and have as main function to do an amplification.

The digital ones work from values or logic states, which usually vary between 0 and 1. They are intended for products that work with digital technology and that have signals with variations by discontinuous jumps.

Integrated circuit classification

Another point of attention about integrated circuits is their classification and each one of them is more focused on a certain way of use. In this way, the classifications present in the market today are:

  • Small Scale Integration (SSI): This is a low scale integration circuit and is the one with the fewest components, having up to 30 devices on its wafer.
  • Medium Scale Integration (MSI): Making a medium scale integration, this type of integrated circuit has hundreds of components and the most common of this type are decoders and counters.
  • Large Scale Integration (LSI): Making a large scale integration, this circuit has thousands of components and can perform more complex logical functions being used in calculators and digital clocks.
  • Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI): This type of circuit performs a very large scale integration and has components in a number between 100 thousand and 10 million, being used in several types of microprocessors.
  • Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI): This is a circuit with ultra large scale integration and has more than 10 million devices on its chips.

Na foto uma mesa repleta de papéis e as mãos de duas pessoas apontando para eles.

Large-scale integrated circuits are widely used for calculators acting in arithmetic operations. (Source: Oleg Magni / Pexels)

Power

It should also be taken into account when choosing an integrated circuit the power that it works, since depending on the form of application the low power ones may not be indicated. This power is also related to the type of capsule that this product has.

With that, the ones that have double row of pins are the low power ones and the medium power ones have four rows of pins. Those with several rows of pins have a high power.

Image source: Chatri Attanatwong / 123rf

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