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Taken from the Semiconductor Industry Association Website.
Industry term for third generation wireless mobile communications networks.
The fastest speed modem that will work over a conventional dial-up phone line.
Due to the FCC’s mandated power limits, the maximum transmission speed
of a 56K modem is usually only 53Kbps. Typical achieved transmission speeds
average between 40Kbps and 46Kbps depending upon computer hardware, software
A/D or DC
Analog-to-Digital Converter. This device is what all digital imaging systems
use to get real-world pictures from a TV camera, for example into a computer.
Circuit board or other hardware in Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) that provides
the physical interface to the communications network.
Analog is a continuous signal, measuring features that are difficult to break
into digital components, such as pressure, temperature, voltage, current and
air and water-flow. The circuits are used in products that involve sound (radios,
TVs) and pressure (automotive air bags, anti-lock brakes).
One ten-billionth of a meter. Some chip layers are only 100 angstroms thick.
Audio-grade DRAM with "bad bits." An ARAM can be mapped to avoid
using bad bits, and therefore deliver good performance.
Application Specific Integrated Circuits
Designed to suit a customer’s particular requirement, as opposed to DRAMs
or microprocessors, which are general-purpose semiconductors.
A step in semiconductor manufacturing in which the chip (die) is either encased
in a plastic, ceramic or other package or assembled directly on a printed circuit
Application-Specific Standard Products. An integrated circuit that performs functions
for a single application.
An analog measure derived from the difference between the highest and lowest
frequency on a carrier wave. Also used to describe the amount of data that can
be sent through a given communications circuit.
Bipolar Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors
This relatively new process combines both bipolar and CMOS technologies on the
same chip, yielding products with the benefits of both technologies.
Characteristic of having only two states, such as current on and current off.
The binary number system uses only ones and zeros.
A type of transistor noted for its speed where a flow of both conduction electrons
and holes determine the device characteristics.
Binary digit. The basic unit of all digital communications. A bit is a "1" or "0" in
a binary language.
A wireless Personal Area Network (PAN) technology from the Bluetoothtm Special
Interest Group, founded in 1998 by Ericsson, TBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba. It
is an open standard for short-range transmission of digital voice and data between
mobile and desktop devices.
Originally described the frequency bandwidth of analog circuits. The term has
evolved to specify 56 KBps, then 1.5 Mbps capability.
A data unit of eight bits.
A term that refers to any of a number of wires or wire groups capable of carrying
voice or data transmissions.
Sophisticated, computerized workstations and software used to design integrated
Code Division Multiple Access, also called Spread Spectrum, a term for a form
of digital spread spectrum cellular phone service that assigns a code to all
speech bits, sends a scrambled transmission of the encoded speech over the air
and reassembles the speech into its original format. CDMA has up to 20 times
the capacity of analog cellular service and is best known for its superior call
quality and long battery life.
An individual integrated circuit built in a tiny, layered rectangle or square
on a silicon wafer.
The sterile rooms where chips are fabricated. The air in these rooms is thousands
of times cleaner than in a typical hospital operating room.
Same as printed circuit board. A board with microprocessors, transistors and
other electronic components. Also called a circuit card.
Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors
Combine both positive- and negative-channel transistors on the same circuit design.
CMOS circuits consume relatively low amounts of power.
A chemical or structural irregularity that degrades the product. Defects can
affect the product over time or interfere with manufacturing the chip correctly.
Common causes of defects are flakes from skin or cosmetics, and droplets from
a person’s sneeze.
The method of representing information as numbers with discrete (non-continuous)
values, usually expressed as a sequence of binary digits (ones and zeros).
A single integrated circuit (or chip) cut from the wafer on which it was manufactured.
State of the art in cellular communications technology, up to 15 times the capacity
of analog technology with significantly less static, loss/interruption of the
signal when passing between cells and connection problems because of congested
A term given to a piece of equipment that joins a digital phone line to a phone,
PC or other hardware. It allows for testing, conditioning, circuit timing and
other analysis of a phone line and is not used for communications purposes.
Digital Subscriber Line. A technology that increases the digital speed of ordinary
phone lines by a substantial factor over common dial-up modems. Offers symmetrical
and asymmetrical operation. Asymmetrical versions (ADSL, RADSL, VDSL, etc.)
provide higher downstream transmission than upstream and are better suited
usage and video on demand applications. Symmetric DLS (HDLS, SDSL, IDSL, etc.)
provide the same speed in both directions. All DSL have distance limitations
of around two or three miles between the telephone company’s central
office and the customer site.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Digital circuits designed to address a broad class of problems in signal reception
and analysis that have traditionally been solved using analog components. DSP
is used to enhance, analyze, filter, modulate or otherwise manipulate standard
analog functions, such as images, sounds, radar pulses, and other such signals
by analyzing and transforming wave-forms (e.g., transmitting data over phone
lines via modem).
A signal and switching device that allows current in one direction and blocks
it in the opposite direction. One use: regulating load voltages.
A device that contains one active element, such as a transistor or diode, although
a hybrid might contain more than one active element. In comparison, an integrated
circuit could contain millions of active elements on a single chip.
Dynamic Random Access Memory
A type of memory component. "Dynamic" means the device’s memory
cells must be recharged periodically. Information stored in the memory cells
is accessed randomly. Memory is a key component of most electronic products.
A wafer fabrication process in which exposed areas of silicon are bombarded with
chemical impurities to alter the way the silicon conducts electricity in those
Electron Beam refers to a machine that produces a stream of electrons that can
be used to expose photoresists directly on a wafer or on a mask. Electron-beam
lithography is a microprinting technique.
Electronically-Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory.
Electronically Erasable ROM.
A computer chip that controls the function of its product. While embedded processors
sometimes refer to the type of chips used in simple electronic toys, "talking" greeting
cards and similar consumer products, they are also high-functioning microcontrollers
that are the brains of products such as laser printers.
Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory
Allows stored information to be erased by exposure to ultraviolet light.
The removal of selected portions of materials to define patterned layers on chips.
A local area network used for connecting computer, printers, workstations, terminals,
servers and other computer hardware within the same company. Ethernet operates
over twisted wire and over coaxial cable at speeds up to 10 million bits per
Extreme Ultraviolet Technology
A technology for extending ultraviolet lithography by manufacturing a lens with
concave and convex mirrors. This type of manufacturing allows the lens to focus
patterns on a chip that are too small to be lithographed.
The fabrication facility, or fab, is the manufacturing plant where the front-end
process of making semiconductors on silicon wafers is completed. The package
and assembly (back end) stages are typically completed at other facilities.
A semiconductor company with no wafer fabrication capability.
A faster form of EPROM that permits more erase/write cycles. Flash memory is
increasingly used instead of EPROM when there is a requirement for large amounts
of non-volatile program memory.
Created from the Focus Center Research Program, A Focus Center is a university
center that leads a consortium of other universities in researching a particular
challenge to the long-term advancement of semiconductor technologies.
A wafer production and processing plant. Usually used to denote a facility that
is available on a contract basis to companies that do not have wafer fab capability
of their own, or that wish to supplement their own capabilities.
A III-V compound semiconductor material used for making optoelectronic devices
and high-frequency ICs. GaAs has a higher electron mobility than silicon, thus
having the capability of producing higher-speed devices.
A semi-custom chip. The integrated circuit is preprocessed to the first interconnect
level. The remainder of the interconnect is customized to meet specific requirements
of the customer.
High Definition Television. This term describes several advanced standards proposed
by U.S., Japanese and European companies to allow high resolution TV to be received
in the home.
Integrated Circuit. A chip etched or imprinted with network or electronic components
such as transistors, diodes and resistors along with their interconnections.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A world-wide engineering publishing
and standards-making body for the electronics industry.
Integrated Circuit (IC)
Semiconductor chip in which many active or passive elements are fabricated and
connected together on a continuous substrate, as opposed to discrete devices,
such as transistors, resistors, capacitors and diodes that exist individually.
Click here for more information on the design and manufacturing process of Integrated
A collection of networks interconnected by a set of routers which allow them
to function as a single, large virtual network. The Internet (with a capital "I")
is the largest such network in the world, using a common protocol and allowing
millions of users to share information all over the planet.
One way that the surface of a chip is transformed. It is a method that fires
beams of charged atoms at the surface of the wafer. The high level of energy
of these ions allows them to penetrate the silicon to produce the desired doping
Internet Service Provider. Any of a number of companies that sell Internet access
to individuals or organizations.
Local Area Network. A communications network that serves users within a confined
geographical area, and made up of servers, workstations, a network operating
system and a communications link.
A stamped or etched metal frame, usually connected to the bonding pads of a die
by wire bonding, that provides external electrical connections for a packaged
The transfer of a pattern or image from one medium to another, as from a mask
to a wafer. If light is used to effect the transfer, the term "photolithography" applies. "Microlithography" refers
to the process as applied to images with features in the micrometer range.
Large Scale Integration. The art of putting tens of thousands of transistors
into a single integrated circuit.
Similar to a standard cell but larger. Macro cells contain predefined circuit
elements that may be selected and arranged to create a custom or semi-custom
integrated circuit more easily than through design. Designers building ASICs
use macro and standard cells.
A microcontroller is a stand-alone device that performs computer functions within
an electronic system without the need of other support circuits. A microcontroller
contains memory functions, unlike a microprocessor; which is typically paired
with a chip that provides memory. Microcontrollers are used in TVs, VCRs, microwave
ovens and automobile engines.
A metric unit of linear measure which equals one millionth of a meter. The
diameter of a human hair is about 100 microns. Today’s semiconductors
have lines etched at .18 microns.
A device that works with a micro-controller or microprocessor. Microperipherals
are used in modems, ISDN and ethernet lines, in imaging equipment such as printers,
computer mice and keyboards.
A central processing unit (CPU) fabricated on one or more chips, containing the
basic arithmetic, logic and control elements required by a computer for processing
data. Micro-processor also refers to an integrated circuit that accepts coded
instructions, executes the instructions and delivers signals that describe its
A class of ICs that have traditionally been considered analog semiconductors.
They can also be defined as anything that combines analog and digital circuitry-and
that includes many ASICs and DSPs.
A type of computer equipment that links computers via telephone lines and enables
the transmission of data. Derived from the words "modulate" and "demodulate," because
a modem converts, or modulates, transmission signals from digital to analog
for transmission over analog telecommunications lines, and then converts them
or demodulates the signals, from analog back to digital.
In 1965 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors
(and capacity) that can be squeezed onto a chip would double every 18 months.
If this trend continued, he reasoned, computing power would rise exponentially
with each new generation of chips. His published observation holds to this day.
Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor
A device that does not require as much power as bipolar devices because of its
insulation. The term can be applied either to transistors in an IC or to discrete
power devices. MOSFETs are easier to manufacture than bipolar devices and are
a building block in the fabrication of CMOS chips.
A metric unit of linear measure which equals one billionth of a meter.
An arrangement of objects that are interconnected. In communications, the transmission
channels interconnecting all clients and server stations as well as all supporting
hardware and software.
A storage device whose contents are preserved when its power is off. Storage
using magnetic disks or tape is normally non-volatile. Some semiconductor memories
(ROM, EPROM, Flash memory) are non-volatile while other semiconductor memories
(static RAM and especially dynamic RAM) are normally volatile but can be made
into non-volatile storage by permanently connecting a (rechargeable) battery.
Negative-channel Metal Oxide Semiconductor
NMOS was the preferred technology for making leading-edge chips in the 1970’s
and early 1980’s.
A device that is responsive to or that emits or modifies light waves. Examples
are LEDs, optical couplers, laser diodes, and photo detectors.
The protective container or housing for an electronic component or die, with
external terminals to provide electrical access to the components inside. Packages
provide for power and signal distribution, power dissipation, and physical and
chemical protection of the circuits.
Printed Circuit Board. Flat material on which electronic components are mounted.
Also provides electrical pathways that connect components.
Personal Digital Assistant.
Programmable Logic Device
A digital IC that can be programmed by the user to perform w wide variety of
logical operations. FPGAs and CPLDs are classes of PLDs.
Random Access Memory
May be written to, or read from, any address location in any sequence. Also called
a read/write memory, RAM stores digital bits temporarily and can be changed rapidly
as required. RAM constitutes the basic read/write storage element in computers.
Radio Frequency. The rage of electromagnetic frequencies above the audio range
and below the visible light. All broadcast transmission, from AM radio to satellites,
falls into this range, between 30KHz to 300GHz.
Read Only Memory
Permanently stores information used repeatedly, such as tables of data, characters
for electronic displays, etc. A popular type known as PROM is programmable in
the field with the aid of programmer equipment. Programmed data stored in ROM
is often called firmware.
An international reference document of requirements, potential solutions, and
their timing for the semiconductor industry. It identifies needs and encourages
innovative solutions to meet future technical challenges, and provides an ongoing
emphasis on obtaining consensus industry drivers, requirements, and technology
This is the generic name for discrete devices and integrated circuits that can
control the flow of electrical signals. Silicon is the basic material on which
semiconductors are fabricated.
Electronic functions that enhance the representations of physical or electrical
phenomena. Temperature, pressure, vibration, acceleration and flow are examples
of physical properties that rely on signal processing enhancements. The detection
and conversion of RF, X-ray or ultrasonic energy into images and sound is another
form of signal processing.
Refers to the electronic properties of crystalline material, as opposed to vacuum
and gas-filled tubes that transmit electricity. Compared with earlier vacuum-tube
devices, solid-state components are smaller, less expensive, more reliable, use
less power and generate less heat.
Static Random Access Memory
Is an integrated circuit similar to a DRAM that requires no constant refreshing
or recharging. It retains stored information as long as power is applied to the
computer, hastening information-retrieval process time. In contrast to ROM, SRAM
is still volatile and will lose its contents when the power is switched off.
SRAM is usually faster than DRAM but usually costs more per bit because each
bit requires several transistors. It is used for the most speed-critical parts
of a computer or other circuit.
Predefined circuit elements that may be selected and arranged to create a custom
or semi-custom integrated circuit more easily than through design. Designers
build ASICs using standard cells.
The body or base layer of an integrated circuit, onto which other layers are
deposited to form the circuit. The substrate is usually silicon, although sapphire
is used for certain applications, particularly military, where radiation resistance
is important. The substrate is originally part of the wafer from which the die
is cut. It is used as the electrical ground for the circuit.
A device used to produce high-energy X-rays that can inscribe features on a chip
potentially as small as 100 nanometers.
System on a Chip
A chip that is a self-contained system, including processing, memory and input-output
An electronic device capable of amplifying electronic signals similar to the
vacuum tube but made from a semiconductor material such as silicon or germanium.
Very Large-Scale Integration. The art of putting hundreds of thousands of transistors
onto a single quarter-inch integrated circuit.
A thin slice, typically 10-30 mils thick, sawed from a cylindrical ingot (boule)
of extremely pure, crystalline silicon, typically six to eight inches in diameter.
Arrays of ICs or discrete devices are fabricated in the wafers during the manufacturing
A slang term for wafer fabrication facilities, ultra clean factories wherein
silicon wafers are produced.
The lithographic process for transferring patterns to a silicon wafer. The electromagnetic
radiation used is X-ray, rather than visible radiation.
Yield refers to the percentage or absolute number of defect-free die on a silicon
wafer or of packaged units that pass all device specifications. Because it costs
the same to process a wafer with 10% good die and 90% good die, eliminating defects
and improving yield become the critical variable in determining the cost per