What Is ASIC?

An application-specific integrated circuit is an integrated circuit (IC) that’s custom-designed for a particular task or application. Unlike FPGA boards that can be programmed to meet a variety of use case requirements after manufacturing, ASIC designs are tailored early in the design process to address specific needs. The two primary ASIC design methods are gate-array and full-custom.

  • Gate-array are semi-custom designs that use predefined, diffused layers, transistors, and other active devices to help minimize up-front design work and associated costs.
  • Full-custom designs are more complex and more costly, but in return deliver chip flexibility and the ability to process greater workloads.

Why Use ASICs?

While the original cost of design can be high, ASICs can be cost effective for products like mobile phones and other popular consumer devices that anticipate large production runs. An ASIC might be the best choice for designers looking to:

  • Avoid supply chain issues.
  • Decrease the size of the device.
  • Perform specialized functions.
  • Improve efficiency by using less electrical power.
  • Make it difficult for competitors to emulate products through the use of custom chips.

By consolidating multiple functions in a single chip, ASIC products require fewer electronic components and are typically easier and cheaper to assemble.

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