Integrated circuit (IC) chip technology has been changing our lives dramatically for more than 50 years. Since their introduction in the 1960s, IC chips have developed in complexity and usefulness to the point where hundreds, if not thousands, can be found in the average households of developed countries. IC chips instigated a technical revolution considered to be more significant than any
other period of invention in human history. IC chips are the backbone of the computer industry and have spurred related technologies such as software, mobile electronics, and the Internet. Every product of the information age is an offspring of IC technology.
IC chips can be found in automobiles, televisions, Blu-ray and DVD players, digital cameras, smartphones, appliances, and game consoles. The list of applications and seemingly miraculous behind-the-scene functions of IC chips could easily fill an entire book.
The future of IC technology is full of possibilities, such as humanized robotics. It is not hard to imagine in the near future a robot that assists the elderly or disabled, with the ability to react to voice command, do chores, hold a conversation, and
respond to facial expressions.
When dealing with 3D graphics and artificial intelligence, the thirst for computational power and memory space will never end and will further drive demands for more-powerful microprocessors and memory chips with larger storage size.
After finishing this chapter, the reader will be able to:
• name the three scientists who invented the first transistor
• identify the two people who shared the patent for the invention of integrated circuits
• explain the difference between a discrete device and an IC device
• describe Moore's law
• explain the effects of feature size and wafer size on IC chip manufacturing
• define the term semiconductor technology node.