After the transistor was invented and mass-produced, various solid-state semiconductor components such as diodes, transistors, and the like were used in large quantities, replacing the function and role of the vacuum tube in the circuit. Advances in semiconductor manufacturing technology in the mid to late 20th century made integrated circuits possible. The use of individual discrete electronic components in a manually assembled circuit allows integrated circuits to integrate a large number of micro-transistors into a small chip, a huge advancement. The scale production capability, reliability, and modular approach to circuit design ensure rapid adoption of standardized integrated circuits instead of designs using discrete transistors.
Integrated circuits have two main advantages for discrete transistors: cost and performance. The low cost is due to the fact that the chip prints all components as a unit through photolithography, rather than making only one transistor at a time. The high performance is due to the fast switching of the components, which consumes less energy because the components are small and close to each other. In 2006, the chip area ranged from a few square millimeters to 350 mm2, and it could reach one million transistors per mm2.
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