electronic circuit formed on a small, flat piece of semiconductor material / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An integrated circuit (more often called an IC, microchip, silicon chip, computer chip, or chip) is a single piece of specially prepared silicon (or another semiconductor) into which an electronic circuit is etched using photolithography. Silicon chips can contain logic gates, computer processors, memory and special devices. The chip is very fragile and so is normally surrounded by a plastic package to protect it. Electrical contact with the chip is provided through tiny wires that connect the chip to larger metal pins that stick out of the package.
An IC has two main advantages over discrete circuits: cost and performance. Cost is low, because millions of transistors can be put onto one chip instead of building a circuit with single transistors. Performance is higher since the components can operate more quickly and use less power.
ICs are designed for different purposes. For example, a chip may be designed just for a calculator, which can only work as a calculator. Integrated circuits can be classified into analog, digital and mixed signal (both analog and digital on the same chip). ICs are found in many household items such as radios, computers, and telephones, and many others.