What is VLSI?


Very large-scale integration (VLSI) refers to an IC or technology with many devices on one chip. The question, of course, is how one defines "many."

The term originated in the 1970s along with "SSI" (small-scale integration), "LSI" (large-scale), and several others, defined by the number of transistors or gates per IC. It was all a bit silly since improving technology obviously makes numerical definitions meaningless over time. And it varies by industry -- a VLSI analog part is quite different from a VLSI digital logic part or a VLSI memory part.

Eventually, the pundits began trying terms like "ULSI" (ultra-large-scale). Engineers, meanwhile, ignored it all and spent their time building better devices instead of making up new words for them.

The terms LSI and VLSI are now usually used as general terms, referring to a product or technology that subjectively has more devices than typical products in the category. Maxim has observed a technical trend in analog and mixed signal toward increasing complexity. Many of our parts include complex control, such as the MAXQ microcontroller core, with many times more devices than most analog parts.


Very large-scale integration
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