A-to-D, ADC, A/D
Analog-to-Digital take a voltage reading on its input, which may come from a temperature sensor, pressure gauge, or other real-world continuous signal, and translates it into a digital representation for use by a processor. ADCs are judged by the speed (1 Msps –million samples per second) and the resolution and accuracy (8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-bit with ±1/2 bit) of their conversion. Methods of conversion include successive approximation (SAR)
and sum-of-difference (delta-sigma – sometimes sigma-delta.)
Because analog circuitry is best manufactured in a different manner than digital circuitry, the best A-to-D converters are typically designed on an analog semiconductor process technology.
A D-to-A converter (or DAC) performs the reverse function by producing an analog output voltage that is proportional to its digital data input. The output voltage can drive a motor, display or control device. See: digital
An Anti-skid Braking System uses a microcontroller to optimize braking on vehicles by rapidly pulsing the brakes (on-off-on-off…) when a wheel starts skidding on the road surface. ABS even allows steering to be effective under lock-up conditions.
Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. The acronym is a bit of an inadequate description because there are many ICs dedicated to a specific application. To fully distinguish an ASIC properly, think of it as a customer-specific or OEM-specific IC. An ASIC is really designed for only one OEM, and is not sold to any other customer (unless they explicitly license the chip from the OEM).
However, there are numerous examples where a chip vendor lays out the chip, either because the ASIC is really a special alteration of a standard commercially-sold circuit, or because the chip is designed from the ground up for that one customer. ASSPs are similar to ASICs except they are sold on the merchant market and are fully described with a traditional publically-available data sheet. Further, important explanation is given at ASSP and SoC.
The Application-Specific Standard Product is sold to the merchant market to address the needs of perform a specified function needed in a stated application. The chip is described in a traditional publically-available data sheet. However, many MCUs, MPUs, DSPs can be mistaken for ASICs and ASSPs. An ASIC differs from an ASSP because an ASIC has no public data sheet and is sold to only one customer.
ATE / ATS
Automated Test Equipment/Systems
In the back end of semiconductor manufacturing a fully-fabricated integrated circuit is assembled into a protective package. There are numerous types of these packages which are familiar as the rectangular often-black objects soldered down to a printed circuit board. In the back end, electrical connections are made between the bond pads on the die and the lead frame within the package using bonding wires in a process often referred to as assembly. The leads (pins) or pads protruding from the package provide rugged points for connecting to the circuit board while the package protects the delicate die and may help dissipate the heat it generates. After chips are packaged they go through final test where innumerable environmental, functional, and electrical tests determine the success of the entire process. See: front end, binning..
A wafer fabrication process that incorporates Bipolar and CMOS devices on the same chip
Binning is a casual term for a test procedure used to grade semiconductor chips by selecting the best chips from many in a manner not unlike choosing players for a sports team. Each of a batch of chips are tested to the most-stringent criteria – high clock rate, wide temperature range, functional operation, etc. Parts that pass the most severe criteria are put in the first “bin” and later sold for the highest prices. All remaining parts are then
tested to the second-most stringent criteria, seeking the parts that pass those slightly-reduced speed/temp/function tests to be sold to the less-constrained applications at a slightly-reduced price. The cycle is repeated until all chips are graded or deemed non-functional. The grades may sort out 100 MHz, 125 MHz, 150 MHz, plus 0 to 70°C, -40 to 85°C, -55 to 125°C, plus whether the A-to-D or CAN interface is pinned out (connected). A glance at the ordering options for a given part show the grades that will be tested.
The grading statistics of every batch of chips produced is carefully tracked by process and test engineers to provide forensic evidence of the impact of changes made up and down the fabrication (and packaging) line, or shifts in output due to yet-unidentified reasons. Such “yields” ultimately determine the profitability of the manufacturing. See: temperature range.
Built-In Self-Test circuitry in a semiconductor
The smallest representation of a binary state, 1 (on) or 0 (off) used by a computer and the binary number system. Note that bit is usually abbreviated as a lower-case “b”. See: byte
The Bill Of Materials lists all of the components and materials needed to build the product. Assembly labor, software, testing, royalties, shipping, tariffs, overhead, and cost of sales must be added to the cost of the BOM to arrive at the final product’s total cost. In speech, BOM is pronounced the same as bomb rather than spelling it out. See: TCO
A microchip; a semiconductor die, rarely larger than a fingernail but more usually somewhat rectangular, maybe 5mm x 4mm and only half a mm thick, that is the active, electronic essence of modern electronic equipment. Usually these chips are encased in a protective “package” with only electrically-conductive leads protruding, but in the most space-constrained applications the bare die is visibly mounted on the circuit board. See: die, PCB, wafer
Two or more chips that are designed to work together extremely well to accomplish a greater function than possible with just a single chip.
Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductors pair a P-channel transistor with an N-channel transistor which performs a sort of push-pull effect that very quickly switches the silicon-based transistor from ON to OFF or back, saving power dramatically. Thus, CMOS became known as the low-power low-cost semiconductor technology. In the mid-1970′s PMOS was largely left behind in favor of faster NMOS. By 1980, CMOS had become the technology of choice for most semiconductors. Alternative technologies today are in the bipolar category with SiGe (silicon-germanium) being the most significant today. Bipolar transistors switch much faster but consume more power doing so.
A component is a part which is not complete in itself, requiring proper combination with other parts to form something greater and more complete. In electronics, at the lowest level, active components often refer to semiconductor chips, while passive components refer to resistors, capacitors, inductors, and the like. Built-up circuit boards, sub-assemblies, or sub-systems might be considered components at the next level, possibly needing to be combined with other components, input subsystems, output devices, power supplies, etc. to complete a full system.
DAC- D/A, D-to-A
Digital-to-Analog Converter. See: A-to-D
A word frequently used in electronics, with many meanings depending on its use. Generally it is merely an item, a single thing, a piece of equipment, perhaps not well-described or specific, but with certain characteristics. A semiconductor device might be a single transistor, a simple logic circuit, or any number of categories of chips. When considering larger circuits, applications, and equipment, a device can be any one of many systems. A frequent, more current use of the term “device” refers to some form of an electronic platform with assumed given characteristics. Those characteristics might be USB connectability, Wi-Fi, storage capability, processing intelligence, or simply access to higher- (or lower-) level systems. It could be a PC, a tablet, a PDA, a cell phone / smartphone, a network adaptor, a hub, a digital still camera, or NAS storage.
One of the last steps in semiconductor wafer fabrication is scribing and breaking the wafer in a grid pattern to isolate each circuit into an individual die. This is mounted into a special protective package and its electrical connections are brought to the extremities for easy solderability to a printed circuit board (PCB). At least one major chip vendor uses the term “bar” rather than “die”. Engineers find microphotographs of die (a “die photo”) to be fascinating, especially if major circuit functions are marked on it. Most people might think they look like a satellite photograph of New York City, with Donald Trump’s properties identified.
Discrete quantities, such as either 0 or 1 but nothing in between, are considered digital. Digital is often contrasted with “analog” which has infinitely variable quantities, such as 73.14159 degrees
Digital equipment has often been erroneously marketed as “better than” analog. The “real world” is actually very analog
ElectroMagnetic Field radiation or Interference is good if you’re making use of the radiation or bad if it interferes with the EMF signals you’re trying to use. Antennae radiate EMF but cables must be shielded from EMI. EMF can also refer to ElectroMotive Force which describes the electrical energy potential across the terminals of a battery or similar source.
The End Of Life of a product is a kind of “last call” for purchase orders. A vendor will often issue an End-of-Life announcement to existing customers giving a deadline six month away during which it will accept orders for a given part. Customers will have that long to assess their expected long-term needs for the part and place orders (that often may be shipped for as long as 12 additional months) – or plead with the vendor to keep the chip in
As a business driven by high-volume production and the need to stay ahead by constantly pushing to the latest technology, semiconductor production may have limited runs. Products that have limited success in the market may not last two to three years in production. Some very successful products may not require much longer a production run because a year later a better, faster, more-dense replacement chip was designed, rendering the former part obsolete. However, many applications of the chips have long product cycles, extended life spans, or extensive test and qualification time frames that require the parts used to be available for periods of 5, 7, 10, and more years. Typical industries with special concerns for a product’s life cycle are embedded, automotive, industrial, and military/aerospace applications (in that order).
It is an undesirable situation, but when the vendor issues an EOL they have determined that inadequate demand exists for the part to justify maintaining the masks, packaging, test routines, documentation, and all the production equipment needed for the part. Even the building (the fab) where the part is fabricated may be scheduled for re-purposing. Old-technology equipment may need to be decommissioned and sold because the floorspace it occupies and maintenance it requires can no longer be justified in light of prospects for newer, more profitable products. There are strategies and businesses to serve EOL’d products, and in some cases companies that purchase the rights to continue manufacturing otherwise-EOL’d products (…”one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”).
The fabrication facility is the building, equipment, and personnel that manufacture a semiconductor chip from raw materials. Fabrication (or, the ”front-end”) usually refers to the making of the semiconductor chip but not the packaging, assembly, and test (or “back-end
A fabless semiconductor company that designs and markets integrated circuits, but relies on a subcontracted foundry for the fab that implements the design and manufactures the chips. The fabless semiconductor company avoids the extreme costs of building, equipping, operating, and maintaining a fab (easily $1 billion) while taking advantage of nearly the latest manufacturing technology, but has less control over parameters in the manufacturing facility and its products’ priority within the contracted fab. See: IDM
A Focused Ion Beam system can repair and somewhat “edit” circuits already etched into a semiconductor chip. Generally, the physical circuits on chips cannot be changed at all once they are fabricated. If there is an error in the circuit design then the entire wafer, lot, and production run has the error and is worthless except for verifying circuits on the rest of the chip. This is extremely wasteful of time and money and can occur late in the chip
development stages or just after an alteration is made to the circuits to enhance a feature. Sometimes individual chips have a flaw due to a contaminant in the manufacturing materials.
FIB machines can deposit and remove insulating and conductor material in a very precise fashion, to recover otherwise-wasted chips. FIB machines are expensive and rather slow to repair a chip, but can be very valuable in saving expensive mask layers and weeks of turnaround-time to run a new set of masks through the fab; all while engineers sit pensively wondering if the part of the chip that can’t be tested will perform as expected.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems
Iconoclastic ASICs. These devices challenge conventional Analog IC Design Methodology. While others cobble together imperfect cell based designs, JVD’s full custom approach creates the smallest chips that guarantee you the lowest total cost solution
Input and Output, or I/O, are the signals that interface the real-world to a computer-based electronic system. Inputs can come from switches, keyboards, sensors, and microphones and outputs can drive LEDs, buzzers, speakers, and actuators. I2C, IIC, I2C Inter-Integrated Circuit serial Communications bus standard. Spoken as “eye-squared-sea” See: SPI, SCI, IC
I2S, IIS, I2S
Inter-Integrated-circuit Sound; a serial bus definition for communicating audio between chips. Spoken as “eye-squared-ess”
Integrated Circuit. Originally, electronic circuits were built using discreet components: transistors, resistors, and capacitors that could be seen separately on a board. Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments is credited with being the first to successfully integrate a number of circuits onto a single semiconductor substrate. This integrated circuit has all the good characteristics of a semiconductor — consistent mass production, low cost, low power, and long life. Almost the only real negative quality of an IC is its lack of flexibility – it is impossible to change its function once it is produced. But ICs were designed to serve the greatest number of applications, so the first digital ICs formed the most basic gate functions, and later flip-flops, soon adders and shift registers, and ultimately enough transistors were available to design the exotic graphics processors of today on single pieces of silicon.
Low Noise Amplifier
The Multi-Project Wafer has become practical as high-density process technology met 300mm wafers. While most semiconductor manufacturing replicates the pattern for just one chip across the entire silicon wafer, in fact a set of wafers, MPW allows patterns for a number of chips onto a single wafer. Sharing a wafer this way reduces the quantity of die of any one chip pattern that are produced so test chips and low quantity runs are not overwhelmed with potentially un-sellable chips. Realize that a 300mm (approx 12″ diameter) wafer might produce 2,500 die that are 5mm on a side.
A Non-Recurring Engineering charge is a fee charged to cover substantial up-front costs associated with starting a project with a vendor. NRE may cover equipment, labor, mask charges, or other one-off expenses, and are agreed upon ahead of time. NRE is in contrast to piece-prices that primarily cover the manufacturing costs of individual parts. See: OTP
On-Board Diagnostics in an automobile provide a port where a technician can interrogate the on-board computer (often the engine control unit) for either stored codes or real-time data that can be interpreted to determine the health of various systems within the vehicle, from engine and drive train to sensors and networks. A persistent fault will often set the “check engine” indicator on the vehicle dashboard. Reading the OBD codes with various instruments can narrow down problems quite readily, with simple handheld instruments getting gross codes that might only indicate the fuel-air mixture is rich while very sophisticated equipment only available (or cost-effective) to dealers or high-end repair shops might be able to point to the specific component that is flawed. All new cars sold in the USA starting with model year 1996 had to provide the OBD-II (second standard version).
Europe started requiring a similar OBD for 2001 cars.
The packaging surrounding a semiconductor die protects the delicate circuitry inside from physical contact and damage while letting electrical connections to reach the die. The familiar black flat rectangular objects seen on a circuit board (see image at PCB) are the packaged electronic circuits (the black typical of the hard plastic molding). There are numerous package types for chips, each with attractive characteristics such as size, height, flexibility, lead (pin) spacing & density, heat dissipation (heat spreaders help in some packages), solderability, and, of course, cost.
Earlier packages were “through-hole” packages with pins that passed through the circuit board for mounting against a shoulder and soldered for electrical connection. Modern packages are more likely to be “surface-mount” where leads (notice the change in term) are soldered to traces on the top surface of the board, requiring slightly less space. The spacing of leads/pins on a package is called the pitch (measured center-to-center). Many packaged devices are shipped in bulk to customers using specially designed, static-free tubes, trays, and for high-speed placement tape-and-reel.
Two standards organizations are often associated with packaging: Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC) and the Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ). Common packaging types include: Dual In-line Package (DIP), Ceramic DIP (CDIP or CerDIP), Thin Small-Outline Package (TSOP), Pin Grid Array (PGA), Ball Grid Array (BGA), Plastic Leadless Chip Carrier (PLCC), Plastic Quad Flat Pack (PQFP), Low-profile Quad Flat Pack (LQFP), Thin Quad Flat Pack (TQFP), Quad Flat Non-lead (QFN), Small Outline Integrated Circuit (SOIC), Small Outline Transistor (SOT), (with Ceramic (C) versions being available for many of the listed Plastic (P) types).
Not all semiconductors are shipped in proper packages but are shipped in “lead frames” or “carriers” which require delicate handling. Some are shipped simply as “bare die”, typically to be soldered directly to a circuit board or module by the customer. Some terms for these technologies include: Chip on Board (COB), Chip Scale Package (CSP), Direct Chip Attach (DCA), and flip chip.
Packages are marked with identifiers such as vendor logos, part numbers, date codes, mask set, country-of-origin/assembly, and advertising (usually IP content), though identification can be obscured through codes when desired. Most full part order numbers include indications of the package type, clock frequency (speed) (for clocked digital circuits), and operating temperature range. The package type code in the order number is rarely the same as the acronyms given here (there is some commonality but can vary by vendor.) See: BGA, back end
Because of some similarities to Earth-bound land, the term “real estate” is often used in association with semiconductor chips, even to the extent of referring to “nano-acres of silicon” (this makes engineers chuckle). Note the remarks under “die”. Some concepts that are similar:
• Cost increases fairly linearly with area (square feet or square millimeters)
• Starting with the base silicon wafer, layers of material are built above, much like constructing a building on land, although each layer may be built very differently.
• The same way allowance must be made for hallways and elevators to let people go quickly from one room or floor to another, traces, buses, and vias
must be accommodated on chips to let electrical signals go from one part of the circuit to another, consuming valuable die area and requiring effective
Radio Frequency IDentification
Semiconductors are materials based on chemical elements that are neither good electrical conductors (like gold and silver) nor good electrical insulators. Instead, under particular conditions, semiconductors can be quickly changed from conductors to insulators, controlling and even amplifying properties of electricity. Silicon (Si) is by far the most useful basis of semiconductors, although in the early days Germanium (Ge) was used (both elements from group 14 of the periodic table of the elements), although some very high-speed circuits today use a molecular combination of gallium (Ga) and arsenic (As) called gallium arsenide, annotated GaAs and spoken in conversation simply as “gas”. See: IC, SiGe
A System-on-a-Chip is an easy concept and seemingly self-explanatory, but in reality is difficult to pin down indisputably. The SoC is the most-highly integrated circuit today, typically with a variety of functions blended together on a single piece of silicon. The chip should be comprised of all of the major functions required to operate the system, including the digital processor. The entire semiconductor memory system is not expected to be on the SoC, mostly because it could be huge – four or five chips in itself. An SoC should contain at least a quarter million transistors.
The difficulty with defining an SoC is pinning it down. Is a processor required or can the chip simply contain 250,000 gates of logic? What if a massive function is implemented but it takes four similar-sized SoCs to build the entire system? Does it matter if the SoC requires a few support chips like A-to-D converters or PHYs? What if the system is relatively small – something that a microcontroller can operate, like an automobile climate control? Isn’t a microcontroller the original SoC? Is a highly-integrated embedded processor or 32-bit microcontroller an SoC? Do all ASICs and ASSPs fit the classification of SoC? Is a classification of SoC mutually exclusive of MPUs, ASICs, and ASSPs, or an independent label?
Does it matter? Generally some of these issues are simply areas for discussion, but when companies and marketers declare “the market for SoCs is $150B,” then it is important to understand what is included in the category.
When spoken, the letters are spelled out, with the plural form adding an “s” to the end, thus spoken as: ess-oh-seas’. However, the plural of the spelled-out written term is “systems on chip”. See: IC
Transistor-based electronics and the integrated circuits that are made from them are considered to be solid state, which really means they are more hardy than the former vacuum tube-based circuits and amplifiers that came before. Tubes (the British use the word “valve”) are delicate, take up to a minute to warm up, and may burn out after a few years, while transistors and ICs can take vibration and physical abuse and are essentially instant-on and last forever. Solid state semiconductors have completely taken over from tube-based electronics, the transition starting in the 1950′s
Two exceptions may be some broadcast radio towers that require power output beyond what power transistors can handle, and the finest audio gear from which the “golden ears” of certain well-trained humans can distinguish the odd harmonics perpetuated through tubes for a smoother sound than the even harmonics of digital electronics grind out. Even the last remaining widespread use of vacuum tubes – the CRT (cathode-ray tube) – is quickly falling from favor as LCD screens, LED displays, and other flat or flexible screen technologies replace CRTs for computer monitors and television screens.
The vision of those older TV tubes dying out as power was turned off and the deflection electromagnets and voltage faded, or warbling as the vertical sync or horizontal hold was de-stabilized by aging components or low-flying aircraft, is a vision that is fading into memory (human, not solid state memory).See: semiconductor
T’s & C’s
The Terms and Conditions are the “fine print” or the long string of what happens after a stated situation develops. Most sales contracts or other contracts have T’s & C’s, often printed on the back of the paper forms or in the long strings of text found in Web link with the tiny little check box next to it. Do not read or ignor the T’s & C’s at your peril. One or another of them have a way of becoming very significant in some future situation you come
across, at which point you will start to see why that particular statement was in the paperwork.
Source: http://www.strategysanity.com/glossary.html, JVD