Application-specific integrated circuit

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An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) (pronounced /ˈeɪsɪk/) is an integrated circuit (IC) customized for a particular use, rather than intended for general-purpose use. For example, a chip designed solely to run a cell phone is an ASIC. Application-specific standard products (ASSPs) are intermediate between ASICs and industry standard integrated circuits like the 7400 or the 4000 series.

As feature sizes have shrunk and design tools improved over the years, the maximum complexity (and hence functionality) possible in an ASIC has grown from 5,000 gates to over 100 million. Modern ASICs often include entire 32-bit processors, memory blocks including ROM, RAM, EEPROM, Flash and other large building blocks. Such an ASIC is often termed a SoC (system-on-a-chip). Designers of digital ASICs use a hardware description language (HDL), such as Verilog or VHDL, to describe the functionality of ASICs.

Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) are the modern-day technology for building a breadboard or prototype from standard parts; programmable logic blocks and programmable interconnects allow the same FPGA to be used in many different applications. For smaller designs and/or lower production volumes, FPGAs may be more cost effective than an ASIC design even in production. The non-recurring engineering cost of an ASIC can run into the millions of dollars.

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