Integrated Circuit- The Miniaturizing aid for Electronics

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

Every electronic device that we use in our daily life is designed with electrical and electronics projects circuits. These electrical and electronics circuits can be designed using various technologies such as vacuum tubes technology, transistor technology, integrated circuit or IC technology, microprocessor technology and microcontroller technology. An Integrated Circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit constructed of individual semiconductor devices, as well as passive components, bonded to a substrate or circuit board. An Integrated circuit is made of devices manufactured by diffusion of trace elements into a single piece of semiconductor substrate.

The imperative part of IC

The impact of integrated circuits on daily lives has been colossal. ICs have become the principal components of almost all electronic devices. ICs demonstrate features like low cost, high reliability, low power requirements, and high processing speeds compared to the vacuum tubes and transistors which preceded them.

Modern ICs found its way in military applications, state of the art communication systems, and industrial applications due to its high reliability and compact size. Nowadays, an IC that has the size of a fingernail consists of more than a million transistors and other discrete components embedded into it. Thus an integrated circuit can also be called a microchip and is basically a collection of some discrete circuits on a small chip that is made of a semiconductor material like silicon.

Integrated circuit microcomputers in today’s life are used as controllers in equipment such as machine tools, vehicle operating systems, and other applications where hydraulic, pneumatic, or mechanical controls were previously used. They can also be reprogrammed without having to redesign the control circuitry. Integrated circuit microcomputers are so inexpensive they are even found in children’s electronic toys.

The use of discrete circuits was replaced by IC’s due to two factors. One is space consumption. A discrete circuitry consists of transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and many other discrete devices. Each of them is soldered on to printed circuit boards (PCB) according to the need of circuitry. In the end PCB will occupy a large space. Another drawback is that the soldered components will show less reliability due to the use of many components. Both these factors urged engineers to invent microcircuits that have more reliability and consume less space.

IC technology precisely reduced the size of circuits compared to the circuit size built using discrete components. Thus, cost of the circuits with the IC technology is less than the discrete or transistor technology. IC are at the heart of the rapid developments in mobile telecommunications, multimedia, the internet and numerous other applications. IC design is of major industrial importance, and this is even more true of analogue circuit design, an area in which the European electronics industry is leading the way.

ICs are also designed to serve important industries such as aerospace, automotive, telecom, computers, and so on. One or more ICs, along with other components and connectors, are mounted on the printed circuit board (PCBs) and connected with thin strips of copper to cater an application. A very common use of a PCB is as the mother board of a computer. The entire process of designing, manufacturing, and testing an IC is quite complex. IC designers design and validate the ICs, while the IC manufacturers (often called the foundry) fabricate and test the ICs. This article explains the end-to-end process of IC designing, manufacturing, and testing.

Market Perspective and latest products

The global market was expected to increase to USD 170.46 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 38.30% between 2016 and 2022. When 2020 started, global economic conditions pointed to single-digit percentage sales growth in the IC market. However, the world abruptly changed with the rapid outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, which shut down nearly all countries and paralyzed global markets beginning in March 2020.

The majority of the impact on the global economy and IC market from Covid-19 would primarily be from market and production disruptions within China. However, the impact of Covid-19 has truly transformed into a worldwide issue with the U.S. and Europe now being the hot spots of this highly infectious and deadly virus. Major upcoming technologies and products in the global market include heterogeneous 3D integration, hybrid memory cube, computing and data centers, and 2D block assembly into 3D chips. With the need for IC in almost all sector of miniaturized electronics , it is important that manufacturers work efficiently to meet quality demands. Below are some of the latest IC in the market:

Ricoh R5101G Power Management ICs

Ricoh R5101G Power Management ICs are CMOS-based μ con power management ICs with high accuracy output voltage, detector threshold, and ultra-low current. These ICs act as power management for a microprocessor and a monitor of the voltage of a power source and a microprocessor supervisor. The R5101G ICs come with a voltage regulator, a voltage detector, and a watchdog timer. The output voltage and the detector threshold voltage are set individually for each IC by laser trimming.

Maxim Integrated MAX15162/MAX15162A Circuit-Breaker ICs

Maxim MAX15162/MAX15162A Circuit-Breaker ICs integrate a dual-channel controller with dual power MOSFETs and electronic circuit-breaker protection in a single package. The devices provide robust over-current protection with programmable current-limit level and adjustable overcurrent shutdown delay for better immunity against system noise and load transient. The MAX15162/MAX15162A is available in a 24-pin, 4mm x 4mm TQFN package and 16-bump, 2mm x 2mm WLP package and is rated over the -40°C to +105°C operation temperature range.

Diodes Incorporated PI3DPX8121 Multiplexer Switch IC

Diodes Incorporated PI3DPX8121 Multiplexer Switch IC features a 4-lane DisplayPort link that supports the data rate up to 10Gbps for DP1.4 and DP2.0 standards. This mux switch provides +10dB (DP2.0@5GHz) and +8.5dB (DP1.4@4.05GHz) maximum equalizer gain controls and compensates for the insertion loss along with the channel connection. The PI3DPX8121 switch IC is ideal for use in laptop and desktop PCs, workstation and server system, docking peripherals, KVM peripherals, PC peripherals, and display monitors.

Qorvo ACT85610 PLP Power Management IC (PMIC)

Qorvo ACT85610 Power Management IC (PMIC) is a highly integrated, highly-configurable multiple output power management unit with built-in Power Loss Protection (PLP). The ACT85610 includes four high-efficiency Bucks that can supply 3x 4A and 1x 2A current, with the output as low as 0.6V. In addition, there is a Boost regulator with 12V output and a fixed output Buck to provide the power for the IC itself and to supply power to the gate drivers in regulators for maximum efficiency. The Power Loss Protection provides backup storage power in the event of an input power failure.

Analog Devices Inc. ADMV8432 Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit

Analog Devices Inc. ADMV8432 Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) is a tunable band-pass filter with a selectable pass-band frequency. The 3 dB filter bandwidth is >17% of the center frequency . The ADMV8432 is a smaller alternative to physically large switched filter banks and cavity tuned filters. The tunable filter has excellent microphonics due to the monolithic design. The filter provides a dynamically adjustable solution in advanced communications applications.

Diodes Incorporated Battery Protection ICs

Diodes Incorporated Battery Protection ICs offer single-chip solutions to the linear charging of Li-Ion cells, offering charge currents up to 1.2A and withstand input transients up to 28V. These small-footprint devices provide an easy and affordable way for OEMs to improve product safety and integrity. Devices such as smartphones and wearable technology are typically powered by single-cell rechargeable batteries. These Battery Protection ICs are designed to ensure the manufacturer-specified tolerances on charge/discharge parameters are complied with. Potential fault conditions such as overvoltage or overcurrent

Diodes Incorporated AP9221 1-Cell Battery Protection IC

Diodes Incorporated AP9221 1-Cell Battery Protection IC is a single-chip protection solution designed for 1-cell Li+ rechargeable battery pack applications. The AP9221 integrates a 1-cell Lithium-ion battery protection chip and a dual N-Channel MOSFET with common drain. The AP9221 provides rich battery protection features and can turn-off the N-Channel MOSFET by detecting overcharge voltage/current, over-discharge voltage/current, or load short circuit.

TUSS4440 Transformer Drive Ultrasonic Sensor IC

Texas Instruments TUSS4440 Transformer Drive Ultrasonic Sensor IC is a highly integrated transformer drive analog front end for industrial ultrasonic applications. The transducer drive stage consists of low-side complementary drivers that can be configured to drive an ultrasonic transducer through a step-up transformer. The device delivers a constant current to the primary side of the transformer. The receive signal path includes a low-noise linear amplifier, a band pass filter, followed by a logarithmic gain amplifier for input dependent amplification.

Silicon Labs Si3471 PoE Power Sourcing Equipment IC

Silicon Labs Si3471 Power over Ethernet Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) IC is designed for use in PoE midspans and injectors that do not require a host or microcontroller. The Si3471 integrates one Ethernet port with the IEEE-required Powered Device (PD) detection and classification functionality, and can deliver up to 90W. In addition, it features PD disconnect using DC sense algorithms and a robust multipoint detection algorithm.

EiceDRIVER Gate Driver ICs

Infineon EiceDRIVER Gate Driver ICs are designed for MOSFETs, IGBTs, SiC MOSFETs, and GaN HEMTs devices. EiceDRIVER gate drivers provide a wide range of typical output current options, from 0.1A up to 10A. These devices have robust gate drive protection features such as fast short-circuit protection (DESAT), active Miller clamp, shoot-through protection, fault, shutdown, and over current protection. These features make these driver ICs well-suited for both silicon and wide-bandgap power devices, including CoolGaN, and CoolSiC.

Infineon Technologies Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) Gate Driver ICs

Infineon Silicon-on-Insulator Gate Driver ICs are level-shift high voltage gate driver ICs for IGBTs and MOSFETs. The SOI technology is a high-voltage, level-shift technology providing unique, measurable, and best-in-class advantages. These include integrated bootstrap-diode (BSD) and industry best-in-class robustness to protect against negative transient voltage spikes. Each transistor is isolated by buried silicon dioxide, which eliminates the parasitic bipolar transistors that are causing latch-up. This technology can also lower the level-shift power losses to minimize device-switching power dissipation.

Toshiba expands portfolio of single channel motor driver ICs

The IC can drive brushed DC motors and supports battery powered devices or any devices with a 5V USB power supply. It’s also suitable for use with many 12-36V industrial devices, home appliances such as coffee machines and robotic vacuum cleaners, fiscal printers, and electronic door locks that require a drive of up to 3.5A. The device has an input voltage range from 4.5-44V.

Future resides in new technologies

The success and proliferation of integrated circuits has largely hinged on the ability of IC manufacturers to continue offering more performance and functionality for the money. The industry has enjoyed exponential improvements in the productivity and performance of integrated circuit technology.

Changes in technology have been rapid, but evolutionary. Many changes have been made in the architecture, or circuit layout, on a chip, but the integrated circuit still remains a silicon-based design. The next major leap in the advancement of electronic devices may involve an entirely new circuit technology. Better devices than the very best microprocessor have always been known to be possible.

The human brain, for example, processes information much more efficiently than any computer, and some futurists have speculated that the next generation of processor circuits will be biological, rather than mineral. At this point, such matters are the stuff of fiction. There are no immediate signs that the integrated circuit is in any danger of extinction thereby continuing the process of miniaturization.

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

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