What is an ASIC? Why use it?

ASIC stands for “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”. This means that an ASIC is designed to be used in very specific applications. Another term for it is “custom” chip. For ASICs a customer specifies certain requirements and specifications and the ASIC supplier then designs to those specifications and supplies the ASIC to the buyer. As such, ASIC has become a generic term. The usage of ASICs has become popular owing to a number of features that ASICs offer. First, the ASIC is usually very small. So it saves space on a board or enclosure that the customer may be using. In some cases there is no way out for the customer,but to use an ASIC. This may be the case, for instance for hearing aids, watches, cell phones. ( Although, strictly speaking a cell phone uses a lot of standard devices in addition to ASICs).An ASIC can be a great cost reduction tool.Insertion costs, discrete device costs, manufacturing costs and other associated costs csn be saved by using ASICs. An ASIC is a very useful tool when it comes to hiding intellectual property ( IP). Most of the circuitry is inside a very small package and can be made to be almost impossible to reverse engineer. Obviously a well designed ASIC can also increase reliabity significantly. No wires to come loose, nor connectors to fail etc. All in all an ASIC can be very useful indeed. To read more about designing an ASIC for yourself please see the article in this blog.

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