ASIC


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ASIC

[′ā‚sik or ¦ā¦es¦ī′sē] application-specific integrated circuit

ASIC

ASIC

(Application Specific Integrated Circuit) Pronounced "a-sick." A chip that is custom designed for a specific application rather than a general-purpose chip such as a microprocessor. The use of ASICs improve performance over general-purpose CPUs, because ASICs are "hardwired" to do a specific job and do not incur the overhead of fetching and interpreting stored instructions. However, a standard cell ASIC may include one or more microprocessor cores and embedded software, in which case, it may be referred to as a "system on a chip" (SoC).

A full custom ASIC chip is the most costly, and like standard cell ASICs, use a custom-designed mask for every layer in the chip. Unlike standard cells, designers of a full custom device have total control over the size of every transistor forming every logic gate, so they can "fine tune" each gate for optimum performance. Thus, a full custom ASIC performs electronic operations as fast as it is possible to do so, providing that the circuit design is efficiently architected.

Several Alternatives
Today, full custom ASICs represent a small percentage of the ASIC market because gate arrays, structured ASICs and standard cells turn circuit designs into working chips much faster and at much less cost. Such chips have greatly improved in speed over the years and provide the necessary performance for many applications. The speed advantage of a full custom ASIC is not as relevant as it was in the past. It is used primarily for devices such as microprocessors that must run as fast as possible and will be produced in huge quantities.

Also promoting the decline of full custom ASICs are chip manufacturers that make generic chips containing all the necessary functions for specific mass market products such as DVDs, CDs, digital cameras, etc. See structured ASIC, FPGA, gate array, standard cell, ASSP, PLD, adaptive computing and CSIC.


Types of ASICs
ASICs can be defined as made in a semiconductor fab only or they can embrace the programmable logic market as well. (Diagram courtesy of Clive Maxfield, www.techbites.com)
References in periodicals archive ?
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Headquartered in Santa Clara, Key ASIC brings the industry a wealth of technology and engineering experience from the semiconductor and EDA sectors.
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We are looking forward to working with TI's design and manufacturing teams to help our mutual customers get their big, fast ASICs to market quickly.
Hence, there has been a direct impact on the ASIC, ASSP, and FPGA markets.
With this announcement, a certain portion of these gates, generally between 20,000 and 100,000, though as high as 400,000 ASIC gates, could be dedicated to one or more of the FPGA cores on the ASIC.
Also, the level of integration with mixed signal IP and the exact customer's configuration may not be available in a Structured ASIC.
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