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What Is ASIC?

ASIC is an acronym for Application-specific integrated circuits, and it is a microchip designed for a particular application rather than for general-purpose use.

Deeper Definition 

An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is a circuit designed and optimized for a single specific purpose. For instance, the integrated circuit in a DVD Player decodes the information on an optical disc. It is a contrast to general-purpose integrated circuits such as RAM chips or mobile device microprocessors.

An integrated circuit is the small black chip you find on just about every circuit board. It is a collection of electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, built into a microchip and connected to perform various functions. Typically, they can perform calculations and store data using either digital or analog technology.

An ASIC can be pre-built and sold for a particular application; in such a case, it is known as an “application-specific standard part (ASSP).” An ASSP is an integrated circuit designed to perform a particular function or set of processes and made as a standard part available to the public. ASSPs reduce the amount of product design time or investment a company needs to get a product to market because they perform essential tasks already pre-assigned without additional programming. They are used in cell phones, digital cameras, vehicle control and safety systems, toys, etc.

An ASIC can be custom manufactured for a particular customer application; in such case, the company that created it intends its usage to be limited to only their products. An advantage of custom ASIC is that it gives total control to its programmers to improve the logic used in performing operations. For instance, the programmers may fine-tune the chip to run very fast.

ASIC Example

ASICs are non-standard integrated circuits built to serve a specific purpose application only. An example of an ASIC is the Bitcoin Miner, which essentially are special computers with more hashing power from graphic cards. They contain specialized chips that attempt to solve an extremely complex computational math problem.

Other examples of ASICs include but are not limited to: 

  • chips used in a talking teddy bear
  • chips used to run a cell phone
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