Integrated Circuit Chips (IC)
Circuits are made up of different
electronic components (capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc.)
wired together in a manner that performs a specific electronic
function. . These components are hooked together on fiberglass
boards called circuit boards. You can see the small thin copper
or metal lines (wires) on a circuit board that connect the different
components together. These are called traces.
If you could find an old 7 or 10-transistor radio from the sixties,
you could open it up and see the peanut sized transistors on
the circuit board. They looked like little water towers with
their 3 legs going down to the circuit board where they were
soldered in place. Now, imagine that circuit board and all of
its transistors, shrunk down to about the size of your little
fingernail and put into a small plastic case for protection.
In other words, the entire circuit would be integrated into
that one small chip. Hence the name, Integrated Circuit (IC).
With today's technology, these
circuits and transistors can be etched into small wafers of
silicon and sandwiched into a small plastic package or chip.
There are small metal pins coming out of the chip that are connected
to the silicon wafer inside with microscopic wiring. The most
amazing thing is, today's small integrated circuits now contain
millions of transistors, not just 7 or 10. These IC chips are
then placed on a circuit board connecting them to other components
and IC chips.
One technology for
producing ICs is called TTL (Transistor Transistor Logic).
These chips are actually more tolerant of ESD (Electrostatic
Discharge) and even faster than the newer technology. However,
they're also larger, use more electricity or power, and their
resistance causes them to run very hot. As computer technology
advanced and the number of transistors in the chips increased,
heat and power consumption became a huge problem.
TTL ICs are still used
in computers today, but the newer CMOS chips
(Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) have
all but replaced them entirely. These chips have a semi-conductive
metal oxide layer that allows for less resistance, reducing
the power consumption and the generated heat. Unfortunately,
the very technology that makes these CMOS chips more efficient
also makes them very susceptible to electrostatic discharge.