Application-Specific Integrated Circuit

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What Does Application-Specific Integrated Circuit Mean?

An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is a kind of integrated circuit that is specially built for a specific application or purpose. Compared to a programmable logic device or a standard logic integrated circuit, an ASIC can improve speed because it is specifically designed to do one thing and it does this one thing well. It can also be made smaller and use less electricity. The disadvantage of this circuit is that it can be more expensive to design and manufacture, particularly if only a few units are needed.

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An ASIC can be found in almost any electronic device and its uses can range from custom rendering of images to sound conversion. Because ASICs are all custom-made and thus only available to the company that designed them, they are considered to be proprietary technology.

Techopedia Explains Application-Specific Integrated Circuit

There are three different categories of ASICS:

  • Full-Custom ASICS: These are custom-made from scratch for a specific application. Their ultimate purpose is decided by the designer. All the photolithographic layers of this integrated circuit are already fully defined, leaving no room for modification during manufacturing.
  • Semi-Custom ASICs: These are partly customized to perform different functions within the field of their general area of application. These ASICS are designed to allow some modification during manufacturing, although the masks for the diffused layers are already fully defined.
  • Platform ASICs: These are designed and produced from a defined set of methodologies, intellectual properties and a well-defined design of silicon that shortens the design cycle and minimizes development costs. Platform ASICs are made from predefined platform slices, where each slice is a premanufactured device, platform logic or entire system. The use of premanufactured materials reduces development costs for these circuits.
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.