As indicated by the name, Application Specific Integrated Circuits or ASICs are non-standard integrated circuits that have been designed for a specific use or application. Generally, an ASIC design finds its use and application for a product that will have a large production run. Typically, ASICs are reserved for high volume products as the cost of an ASIC design is high. Contradictorily, ASICs can be very cost-effective for many applications where volumes are high. The ASIC design can be tailored to meet the exact requirement for the product. Making use of ASIC can mean that much of the overall design can be contained in one integrated circuit and the number of additional components can be significantly reduced. This results in the wide use of ASIC in high volume consumer products that are widely used. In its initial days, ASICs addressed only logic functions. But with gradual advancements, mixed-signal ASIC designs can incorporate both analogue (including RF) and logic functions. To be able to make a complete system on a chip, SoC, these mixed-signal ASICs come in handy. Here, virtually no other components are required as a complete system or product is integrated onto a chip. Hence, making a mixed-signal ASIC design a very attractive proposition for many applications. It was way back in the ’80s when ASICs started to make an impact in the electronics industry.
✎ As highlighted earlier, the development and manufacture of an ASIC design including the ASIC layout is a costly process. There are different levels of customization that can be used to reduce costs. Costs are cut for designs where large levels of customization of the ASIC are not required.
ASIC that can be used at, essentially, three levels:
✎ Of the ASIC types, gate array is the least customizable one. The metallization layers allowing the interconnections between different areas on the chip are customizable, however, the silicon layers are standard. This type of ASIC is ideal where numerous standard functions are required which can be connected in a particular manner to meet the given requirement.
✎ The mask is a custom design for this type of ASIC. As for the silicon, it is made up of library components giving result to a high degree of flexibility, provided that standard functions are able to meet the requirements.
Full custom design
✎ The name explains itself, this type of ASIC is the most flexible design. Right down to transistor level, it involves the design of the ASIC. As per the exact requirements of the circuit, an ASIC layout can be tailored to it. The costs are very much higher and it takes much longer to develop as it gives the highest degree of flexibility. As the whole design is untested and not built up from library elements that have been used before, the risks are also higher.
The highly motivated team at Univision offers the right solutions to your requirements. For many high volume applications, ASIC designs offer a very engaging solution. Notable amounts of circuitry to be consolidated onto a single chip is enabled. ASICs may also be used seldom because they enable circuits to be made that might not be technically viable using other technologies, in addition to the cost viewpoints. It is often essential to employ a specialist company to provide the ASIC design service when developing an ASIC. The design can be tackled more effectively - in terms of correct functionality, cost and timescale by using their expertise.