Definitions of Common Semiconductor Terms

Intersil's Glossary of Semiconductor Terms, Abbreviations and Acronyms is designed to improve understanding and clarify the drivers of our own business: to provide high performance, high reliability, standard and custom products for signal processing and power control applications.

Every industry, as it grows and matures, develops its own language for explaining concepts that are unique to its endeavors. In high-technology industries, language has special meaning for its users and becomes a convenient tool for referring to programs, processes, products or technologies that can be extremely complex.

As words, abbreviations, acronyms and phrases have been invented, combined, and combined again, similar sounds and similar spellings have come to stand for intricate concepts with distinct and important differences.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

How Semiconductors are Made



An impurity from column III of the periodic table, which adds a mobile hole to silicon, thereby making it more P-type and accepting of electrons. Boron is the primary acceptor used to dope silicon. Compare donor.


Applying Concurrent Teams to the Product-To-Market process. An Intersil program that has established a sector-wide procedure for new product development. The highlights of ACT-PTM are (1) the use of concurrent development teams (with representatives from engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and quality); (2) the direct participation of customers; and (3) the formalization of procedures to enhance the quality of product definition and market launch. See also concurrent engineering.

A/D converter

Analog-to-Digital converter. A circuit board or integrated circuit that converts analog input signals to digital equivalent-weight output signals. Integrated circuit converters are a major product area for Intersil and an important element of signal processing. See D/A converter and signal processing.


Libraries of standard cells designed for high performance and a broad application range, developed by Intersil in partnership with Siemens and Toshiba. The Advancell library features high-performance, essential primitive functions such as simple gates, latches/flip-flops, buffers and input/output, as well as a broad family of macrocells. See standard cell.


A processing tool used to transfer lithographic patterns from a photomask to a silicon wafer. Four types of aligners are in use within Intersil: contact, proximity, projection, and steppers. Contact aligners were the earliest type, and have the disadvantage of bringing the photomask in direct contact with the wafer, thereby inviting particulate contamination. The other types avoid direct mask contact and bring increasing line-width control and resolution. See also lithography, mask and stepper.


Arithmetic Logic Unit. One of the three essential components of a microprocessor, the other two being data registers and control. The ALU performs addition and subtraction, logic operations, masking, and shifting (multiplication and division).


A continuous representation of phenomena in terms of points along a scale, each point merging imperceptibly into the next. An analog voltage, for example, may take any value. Real world phenomena, such as heat and pressure, are analog. Compare digital.

analog DI

Analog Dielectric Isolation. An analog integrated circuit technique using dielectric isolation technology. See dielectric isolation.

analog semicustom

Analog integrated circuits that can be specified by a designer using semicustom design techniques to meet a specific design requirement. An area of Intersil specialization. Compare custom integrated circuit and see CAD.

analog signal processing

Processing of analog signals in the analog domain. Includes the capability of amplification, filtering, signal conditioning, multiplication. and comparison of analog signals.


A unit of length. 10,000 angstroms equals 1 micron. 108 angstroms equals 1 cm. A silicon atom has a lattice spacing of 5.43 angstroms. Symbol: Å. See also micron.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. An eight-bit code for alpha-numeric character transfer adopted by the American Standards Association to achieve universal compatibility among data devices. Pronounced "ask-ee."


Application Specific Integrated Circuit. Semiconductor circuits specifically designed to suit a customer's particular requirement, as opposed to a DRAM or microcontroller, which are general-purpose parts. See custom integrated circuit.


Average Selling Price.


The step in semiconductor manufacturing in which the device is encased in a plastic, ceramic, or other package. In some cases, the chip is assembled directly on a printed circuit board.


Application Specific Standard Product. A standard product that has been designed to implement a specific application function, as opposed to a general-purpose product such as a RAM. Intersil offers numerous ASSPs, including SLICs, data communication ICs and power supply ICs.


Automatic Test Program Generation. Automatic translation from a test description language into tester-specific format. The end result is a test program used by a specific IC tester to test a specific device. It can also describe an automated method of generating patterns for use in engineering workstation simulation of ASIC devices. See engineering workstation.


Advanced Very Large Scale Integration. A mainstream CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) process technology used at Intersil's Research Triangle Park Microelectronics Center in North Carolina. This process provides high density by virtue of its 1.25-micron feature size, and is designed with inherent latch-up resistance. Analog and radiation-tolerant variants of AVLSI also are available.


back end

In semiconductor manufacturing, the package assembly and test stages of production. Includes burn-in and environmental test functions. Compare front end.


The width measure of a signal or signal-carrying channel from the lowest to the highest frequency (or bit rate). For analog signals, the width is in the frequency domain, expressed in Hz. For digital signals, the width is in the time domain, expressed in bits per second. In semiconductor devices, the bandwidth is the range of frequency (or bit rate) in which the performance characteristics are within specified limits.


One of the three regions that form a bipolar transistor. It physically separates the emitter and collector regions. Minority carriers are injected from the emitter into the base, where they subsequently either recombine or diffuse into the collector. See also collector and emitter.

behavioral simulation

The ability to simulate the behavior of a function described by a high-level descriptive language such as C, Pascal, Verilog HDL and VHDL.


Bipolar Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. An IC technology combining the linearity and speed advantages of bipolar and the low-power advantages of CMOS on a single IC. BiCMOS can operate at either ECL (emitter-coupled-logic) or TTL (transistor-transistor-logic) levels, and is ideal for mixed-signal devices. It has been predicted that BiCMOS will eclipse CMOS in the '90s, just as CMOS edged out MOS and bipolar circuits in the '80s. Intersil is developing a broad family of BiCMOS processes that combine analog, digital and power functions on a single chip. See also CMOS, ECL circuit, TTL, HBC-10 and Power BiMOS.


Bipolar Metal Oxide Semiconductor. A general term to refer to bipolar and MOS on one chip. Sometimes used interchangeably with "BiCMOS." See also Power BiMOS.

binary number system

A number system employed in computers and digital systems, in which successive digits are coefficients of powers of the base 2, rather than the base 10. For example, the decimal number 13 is represented by the binary number 1101 (1 x 23 + 1 x 22 + 0 x 21 + 1 x 20). Since the only values in the binary system are "0" and "1," quantities, or BITS (binary digits) are represented electronically with either of two conditions, typically a high voltage representing a "1" and a low voltage representing a "0". See bit.

bipolar transistor

An active semiconductor device formed by two P-N junctions whose function is amplification of an electric current. Bipolar transistors are of two types: NPN and PNP, depending on the manner in which the two P-N junctions are combined. Bipolar transistors have three sections: emitter, base, and collector. Operation of a bipolar transistor depends on the migration of both electrons and holes, in contrast to field-effect transistors, where only one polarity carrier predominates.


Building In Reliability.


Binary digit. A digit (1 or 0) in the representation of a number in binary notation. The smallest unit of information recognized by a digital computer. Used to represent two states in the binary number system. Eight bits make a byte. See binary number system.


Bill of Materials. List of specifications that uniquely defines manufacturing sequence, materials and procedures utilized in the manufacture of a specific product.

bonded wafer

A composite dielectrically isolated substrate formed by fusing together (at high temperature) the oxidized surfaces of two individual silicon substrates. Bonded wafers are being developed to extend the Intersil DI (dielectric isolation) technology to wafers as large as six inches in diameter. ICs formed in such wafers provide higher breakdown voltage and a higher level of radiation resistance than devices fabricated in conventional DI substrates.


The process of connecting wires from the package leads to the chip (or die) bonding pads. Part of the assembly process. Alternately, the process of securing a semiconductor die to a lead frame or package. See bond pad.

bond pad

An area (typically 100µm x 100µm) on the periphery of a silicon die for making connection to one of the package pins. A small-diameter gold or aluminum wire is bonded to the pad area by a combination of heat and ultrasonic energy. See bonding.

boost converter

A boost converter is a DC-DC power converter which increases (steps up or boost) its input voltage to produce an output voltage with a higher magnitude. The boost converter is capable of increasing its input voltage by a factor of more than 5 times depending upon the switch duty cycle ratio and the circuit losses.

The transfer ratio of the boost converter is proportional to: M(D) = 1/(1 – D) where D is the duty ratio when switch 1 is closed.

boundary scan

The addition of a partitioning test circuit to the input/output boundary of an IC to control and monitor the logic state of its internal circuit nodes.


BoroPhosphoSilicate Glass. BPSG is an oxide primarily used as a field dielectric.  It is deposited in a PECVD reactor using a mixture of SiH4, B2H6, and PH3 with N2O in a temperature and pressure controlled environment. BPSG is used principally because of its' lower melting point (viscous flow temperature) compared to other oxides. BPSG can be deposited over delineated polysilicon and can 'flow' at temperatures low enough to not significantly alter the dopant profiles in the underlying device silicon. This smoothing improves metal-level step coverage. BPSG is not a good passivation material because it is hydroscopic in nature.  See PECVD


  1. In electronics: a device that is used to provide compatibility between two signals.   Typically the device is used to change the voltage or current level capability, e.g. interfacing the output of a CMOS device to the input of a TTL device. See also bus driver, TTL.
  2. In computing: an area of memory used for temporary storage of information.   Typically, the buffer is used to pass or share information between different processes.
  3. In chemistry: a solution characterized by the ability to withstand changes in pH when limited amounts an acid or base are added.


Four or more parallel conductors in an information processing system along which information is transmitted from one part to another. The microprocessor, peripherals, memory and other components are interconnected by a common bus.

bus driver

An integrated circuit added to the bus to facilitate sufficient drive to the CPU when several peripheral devices are tied to the bus. Drivers are necessary because of capacitive loading, which slows down the data rate and prevents proper time sequencing of system operation. See buffer.


From the expression "by eights." A group of eight contiguous bits (binary digits) handled as a unit in computer processing. A byte can store one alphanumeric character. A kilobyte (KB) is 1024 bytes or 8192 bits. A megabyte (MB) is 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes or 8,388,608 bits.


C (programming language)

A general-purpose programming language developed in the 1970s by Dennis Ritchie of AT&T; Bell Labs. Its generality, machine independence, and efficiency have made C popular for many application areas. The Unix operating system is written in C and the close linking of Unix and C have made C the de facto standard language in engineering software development.


Computer-Aided Design. The use of computer aids (hardware and software) in the electrical and physical design and verification of new things. Historically, CAD has been more used to describe the physical design rather than the electrical design, although currently the distinction is so blurry as to be meaningless. As applied to Intersil products, this means single-chip and multi-chip electronic functions. CAD allows Intersil design engineers to design integrated circuits of continually increasing complexity with decreasing product-to-market times. Of increasing importance to Intersil is that because of the strength of our CAD capability, we can allow customers to do their own designs using Intersil's advanced analog and mixed-signal processes. Analog and mixed-signal design is a much more complex problem than pure digital design. (Neither is easy.) A strong CAD capability is an essential requirement for the types of designs produced by Intersil.


Computer-Aided Engineering. Traditionally, CAE has been used to describe the electrical design rather than the physical design, although these distinctions have blurred. See CAD.


Computer-Aided Manufacturing. The use of computer aids (hardware and software) in planning the construction, tracking the construction, analyzing, and implementing the construction of manufactured things. As applied to Intersil products, this means primarily the construction of single-chip and multi-chip electronic devices. CAM provides Intersil manufacturing engineers the control necessary to cost-effectively build our high-mix product portfolio. Most CAM systems track product flow, equipment usage, reasons for down time, change requests, rework, and the people involved. Intersil's systems, in addition, are known for their powerful planning and delivery capabilities. See IMPReSS.


Critical Dimension.  A feature size as in 0.25 micron.


Cadence Design System's version of the popular circuit simulator, SPICE. See SLICE and SPICE.


CERamic Dual-Inline Package. A package assembled with the leadframe sandwiched between two ceramic layers and sealed by firing a glass frit.


CERamic PACKage. A CERDIP-like package with the leadframe extended out on two or four sides, typically in surface-mounting format. Characteristics similar to CERDIP. Also known as CERQUAD (leads on all four sides), CERPAC, or CERPAK.


The region separating the source and drain of a field-effect transistor. The channel is designed to be normally "on" (conducting) for depletion-mode FETs, or normally "off" (insulating) for enhancement-mode FETs. With the application of a voltage to the gate electrode, the conducting properties of the channel are altered, thereby controlling the current across the channel. The length of the channel is an important parameter in determining the current of the FET, as well as its speed. See also drain, FET, gate, and source.

channeled array

A gate array base die with basic cells arranged in rows or columns. This arrangement permits routing in the spaces (channels) between rows of gates. Routing efficiency is usually high, near 90% or more. Routing is generally achieved by placing macros along single rows or columns. TGC103, TGC105 and TGC108 are examples of a channeled array.

channelless array

A gate array base die with basic cells covering the entire core with no row or column spacing. This array is often called a "sea-of-gates" (an LSI Logic, Inc. trademark) and is more difficult to route. Efficiencies are often 35% or less, due to complexity of the routing process. The advantage to this architecture is that macros can be placed in blocks, which increases macro performance. Larger TGC100 family members are channelless, and smaller members may be redesigned using this architecture.

characterization node

A characterization node is a characterization parameter which impacts reliability and is measured during initial process or product characterization and at infrequent intervals, thereafter. See characterization parameter, performance node.

characterization parameter

A characterization parameter is a measurement taken on a process, tool, or product during a process or product characterization and at infrequent intervals thereafter. See characterization node.


Also called a die. Popular term describing a section of a wafer that contains a discrete component or an integrated circuit. Many chips are made on a single wafer, then separated into dice and packaged individually.

chip carrier

A low-profile component package, usually square, whose active chip cavity or mounting area is a large fraction of the package size, and whose external connections are usually on all four sides of the package.

chip-level integration

The combination of two or more integrated-circuit functions and/or technologies on one IC to achieve miniaturization, reduce systems cost, and make new applications possible. Particularly important for signal processing and power control solutions, Intersil has placed great emphasis on this area.


Computer-Integrated Manufacturing. The integration of computer control and monitoring into a manufacturing process.


A combination of electrical or electronic components, interconnected to perform one or more specific functions.

circuit simulation

An accurate means of verifying the behavior of a circuit before it is fabricated. Very accurate models of the circuit devices--such as transistors, resistors, and capacitors--are used in a simulator that applies efficient numerical analysis algorithms to solve fundamental circuit analysis equations.


Complex Instruction Set Computer. The Intersil 80C286 CMOS CPU is a CISC part. Considered the most common CPU architecture of the 1980s. More flexible and full-featured than RISC. Compare RISC.

Class 'B'

A screening process for circuits that are intended for use in ground-based military electronic systems. Must conform with screening standards per MIL-std 883-C and MIL-M-38510. Compare Class 'S'.

Class 'S'

A screening process for circuits that are intended for use in satellite systems for military space applications. Must conform with screening standards per MIL-std 883-C and MIL-M-38510. Compare Class 'B'.

clean room

A confined area in which the humidity, temperature, and particulate matter are precisely controlled within specified units. The "class" of the clean room defines the maximum number of particles of 0.3 micron size or larger that may exist in one cubic foot of space anywhere in the designated area. For example, in a Class 1 clean room only one particle of any kind may exist in one cubic foot of space. Newer clean rooms are typically Class 1-10, and are needed for manufacturing ICs with feature size close to 1 micron.

closed architecture

A system whose characteristics are proprietary and therefore cannot be readily connected with other systems. Compare open architecture.


Circuit Limited Yield. See yield.


Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. A MOS technology in which both P-channel and N-channel components are fabricated on the same die to provide integrated circuits that use less power than those made with other MOS (metal oxide semiconductor) or bipolar processes.


A family of CMOS processes developed in Intersil's Findlay, Ohio facility. These processes are used to support a wide range of digital applications, including microprocessors, logic, automotive and semicustom. All of the processes use junction isolation and local oxidation (LOCOS) to separate individual devices within a circuit. Their gate length is 3m, 2m and 1.5m respectively.


Chemical-Mechanical Polish (for planarization of wafers). See wafer.


Chip-On-Board. One of many configurations in which a chip is directly bonded to a circuit board or substrate. These approaches include wire bonding, TAB, or flip-chip interconnections. See wire bonding, TAB, flip-chip.


One of the three regions that form a bipolar transistor. The base-collector P-N junction is usually reverse-biased so that minority carriers that are injected into the base from the emitter are efficiently extracted into the collector. See also base, bipolar transistor and emitter.




A device that compares two inputs for equality. One type compares voltages and gives one of two outputs--less than or greater than. Another type compares binary numbers and has three outputs--less than, equal to, or greater than. A third type compares phase or frequency and gives an analog output voltage depending on the relationship between the inputs.


(1) A software tool used to translate higher-level languages (e.g., C, FORTRAN, COBOL) into machine code, or, (2) A software tool used to translate specifications of circuit functions (e.g., RAM, ROM, ALU, controller) into schematics and layouts.


A term describing integrated circuits that employ components of both polarity types connected in such a way that operation of either is complemented. A complementary bipolar circuit would employ both NPN and PNP transistors, and a complementary MOS circuit (CMOS) would employ both N-channel and P-channel devices. In general, complementary devices operate with opposite polarity voltages and currents--advantageous in many circuit applications.


COMmunications SECurity. In semiconductors, refers to devices (generally embedded modules) designed into a host communications system to prevent unauthorized access. Intersil serves this secure communications market with custom and build-to-print ICs.

concurrent engineering

A parallel development approach for reducing time-to-market as well as improving the quality and market impact of new products. Concurrent teams are comprised of representatives from engineering, manufacturing, marketing, quality, etc., and make a special effort to involve the ultimate customer during product definition. See also ACT-PTM.


Any material, such as aluminum, copper or gold, that offers little resistance to the flow of electrical current.


A combination or group of organizations formed to undertake a common objective that is beyond the resources or capabilities of any single organization. Plural: consortia. Intersil participates in several industry consortia, specifically SRC, MCC, and SEMATECH. See SRC, MCC, and SEMATECH.


The presence of unwanted particles, chemicals, or other substances.

control block

The circuitry that performs the control functions of the CPU. It is responsible for decoding microprogrammed instructions and then generating the internal control signals that perform the operation requested.

control parameter

A control parameter is a measurement taken for the purpose of controlling an in-line process or as a test on product. See critical node.


See A/D converter, D/A converter and DC-DC converter.


A circuit element that implements convolution, a mathematical process that is the basis for all filters and fundamental to DSP. Intersil DSP products include two-dimensional convolvers, which are used to filter images. Filtering suppresses unwanted elements of an image and accentuates the features that are needed to understand the content of the image. Common types of two-dimensional filters are low pass, high pass, and edge detection. Low pass filters reduce noise, high pass filters emphasize the details in an image, and edge detectors bring out the outlines of objects. This is a new product area for Intersil.

core competencies

An area of unique strength or expertise. Intersil uses the term to refer to capabilities, process technologies, or product types that provide the company with a competitive advantage.


Central Processing Unit. The heart of any computer system. Basically, the CPU is made up of data registers, computational circuits, the control block, and I/O (input /output.) See microprocessor and MPU.

critical node

A critical node is a control parameter which impacts the reliability of a circuit on a given technology. See performance node.


The flow of electrons or holes. Usually measured in amperes (amp or A) or in fractions of an ampere (milli-amps or micro-amps). Current can be induced by application of an electric field through a conductor or by changing the electric field across a capacitor (displacement current.)

custom cell synthesis (CCS)

Similar to symbolic layout and compaction, CCS takes as its symbolic beginning the transistor schematic of the circuit. From there, the layout and compaction are equally dependent on the quality of the algorithm and the layout rules for the minimization of the area taken up by the circuit.

customer satisfaction index

An objective measure of performance against customer expectations, as monitored through formal interviews with specific customers. Used by Intersil to identify problem areas and correct deficiencies.

custom integrated circuit

An integrated circuit that requires a full set of masks specifically designed for a particular function or application. A custom IC is usually developed for a specific customer and may have to withstand harsh environments. Intersil offers a wide range of process technologies for analog, mixed signal and intelligent power applications. Intersil has more than 20 years experience in the custom market, specifically targeting applications requiring analog and radiation-hardening technologies.


Chemical Vapor Deposition. A gaseous process that deposits insulating films or metal onto a wafer at elevated temperature. Often, reduced pressure is used to promote the chemical reaction.

Czochralski (CZ)

The Czochralski or CZ crystal growth technique is the most frequently used method for producing large single crystals of silicon (also germanium or gallium-arsenide).

In the CZ method a cylindrical single crystal is pulled vertically from silicon melt in a heated crucible. The growth is initiated by dipping a small seed crystal in the melt, and after the thermal equilibrium is reached, the crystal is pulled upwards so that it grows with a constant diameter. At the same time, the crystal rod and the crucible are rotated in opposite directions.  These crystal rods are cut into thin wafers and processed to be used in integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing.  See Gallium Arsenide, integrated circuit, silicon.


D/A converter

Digital-to-Analog converter. A circuit that converts digital input signals to analog output signals. D-to-A and A-to-D converters are a major product area for Intersil Semiconductor and an important element of signal processing. See A/D converter and signal processing.

data acquisition

The process by which events in the real world are translated to machine-readable signals. The term usually refers to automated systems in which sensors are attached to machinery.

DC-DC converter

DC-DC converter or DC-to-DC converter is a broad term for any microcircuit, module, or board assembly which converts a source of direct current (DC) from one voltage level to another. A step-down or buck converter steps the voltage down so that the output voltage is lower than the input voltage. A step-up or boost converter boosts the voltage so that the output voltage is higher than the input voltage. A buck-boost converter can provide a constant output voltage when the input voltage range is above or below the output voltage. This is commonly used in battery applications. Most DC-DC converters also regulate the output voltage and can be referred to as "regulators." Two types of regulators are linear regulators and switching regulators.

DC parametrics

The operating characteristics of an integrated circuit or discrete device that can be measured with the device in a static condition. See parametric tests.


Double Diffused Drain. See diffusion and drain.


Defect Diagnostic Matrix. See defect.


A chemical or structural irregularity that degrades the crystal structure of silicon or of the deposited materials that reside on its surface. Defects can be active mobile impurities that impact the electrical device characteristics over time, or inactive particulates that interfere with the photolithographic patterning. The most common defects in semiconductor processing are those originating from people (oil, cosmetics, sneezing, skin flakes, etc.)

depletion-mode FET

A FET designed so that the channel is in the "on" state with no voltage applied to the gate. See also channel, enhancement-mode FET, FET, gate and source.


The procedure in which materials are deposited onto a substrate. Usually refers to thin conducting or insulating films used to form MOS gates, capacitors, thin-film resistors, and the interconnect system for an IC.


Defense Electronic Supply Center. DESC, located in Dayton, Ohio, is the agency responsible for procurement of electronic supplies for the U.S. military. It certifies that semiconductor vendors are in compliance with military parts specifics, such as MIL-M-38510. DESC also stocks piece parts for spares. Pronounced "deh-see".

device design

The operation in which a designer tailors the transistors exactly to their function in the circuit. In the Intersil FASTRACK design system, very specific and accurate sizings of transistors are made under the general categories of high speed, low noise, or high current transistor types. See FASTRACK.


Design For Manufacturability utilizes statistical information on manufacturing process characteristics to ensure that the circuit design falls within the parameters of normal manufacturing variances for each process element. This allows the designer to center the design for maximum performance and enhances yields, thereby reducing cost.


Design For Reliability.


Design For testability is a design technique and methodology that produces designs for which tests can be generated by known methods that will result in reduced test generation cost, reduced testing cost, and high-quality product. This is usually done at a cost of added overhead circuitry.


Dielectric Isolated Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. DICMOS ICs have proved to be an excellent solution for applications requiring very low leakage current or over-voltage protection.


A single square or rectangular piece of semiconductor material into which a specific electrical circuit has been fabricated. Plural: dice. Also called a chip.


An insulator. Localized regions of dielectric materials are used in semiconductor devices, for example, to provide electrical isolation between dice, between metal interconnect layers, and between the gate electrode and the channel.

dielectric isolation (DI)

A fabrication technique by which components in an integrated circuit are electrically isolated from each other by an insulator (dielectric material).DI surrounds the sides and bottom of each transistor with a layer of silicon dioxide (glass). DI has proven particularly advantageous for fabricating high performance analog ICs. The conventional DI fabrication process for bipolar ICs begins with a wafer of N-type silicon. The side of the wafer that will eventually be the bottom is deeply etched (in V-shaped grooves) to form the sidewall pattern, then silicon dioxide and polycrystalline silicon are grown to fill the etched moats and to thicken the eventual DI substrate. The opposite side of the wafer is polished until the insulating sidewalls appear at the wafer surface. Conventional diffusion and metallization processes follow to complete the IC. Compare junction isolation and see bonded wafer.


A high temperature process in which chemical impurities (dopants) enter and move through the crystalline lattice structure of a semiconductor material to change its electrical characteristics. The process takes place in a diffusion furnace, usually at temperatures between 850oC and 1150oC.


Represented in terms of discrete digits, each distinct from the next. A method of representing and manipulating information by switching current on or off. Compare analog.

digital integrated circuit

A class of integrated circuits that process digital information (expressed in binary numbers). The processing operations are arithmetic (such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) or logical (in which the circuit senses certain patterns of input binary information and indicates the presence or absence of those patterns by appropriate output binary signals).

digital signal processing

See DSP.


A two-terminal semiconductor (rectifying) device that exhibits a non-linear current-voltage characteristic. The function of a diode is to allow current in one direction and to block current in the opposite direction. The terminals of a diode are called the anode and cathode. There are two kinds of semiconductor diodes: a P-N junction diode, which forms an electrical barrier at the interface between N- and P-type semiconductor layers, and a Schottky diode, whose barrier is formed between metal and semiconductor regions.


Dual In-line Package. The most common type of integrated-circuit package, which can be either plastic (DIP-Plastic) or ceramic (CERDIP). Circuit leads or pins extend symmetrically outward and downward from opposite sides of the rectangular package body. "DIP, side-brazed" is a dual in-line package with leads brazed externally, on the sides of the package.

discrete device

A class of electronic components, such as power MOSFETs, bipolar power transistors, surgectors, MOVs, optoelectronic devices, rectifiers, power hybrid circuits, intelligent power discretes, and transistors. Typically, these devices contain one active element, such as a transistor or diode. However, hybrids, optoelectronic devices, and intelligent discretes may contain more than one active element. In contrast, integrated circuits (ICs) typically contain hundreds, thousands, or even millions of active elements in a single die.


Double-Level Metal. An IC metal interconnect process that employs two vertical levels of metal, separated by an insulating layer. DLM technology allows a designer to use a smaller die size (for a given level of design functionality) than does SLM. Compare SLM.


Deep Level Transient Spectroscopy.


Design Limited Yield. See yield.


An impurity from column V of the periodic table, which adds a mobile electron to the conduction band of silicon, thereby making it more N-type. Commonly used donors are arsenic and phosphorous. Compare acceptor.


The intentional introduction of a selected chemical impurity (dopant) into the crystal structure of a semiconductor to modify its electrical properties. For example, adding boron to silicon makes the material more P-type. Doping concentrations range from a few parts per billion (for resistive semiconductor regions) to a fraction of a percent (for highly conductive regions).


An epoxy power discrete package for power MOSFETs, IGBTs, and bipolar transistors. The D-pack is available in a straight leaded version (TO-251) or a surface mountable version (TO-252).


One of the three regions that form a field-effect transistor. Majority carriers that originate at the source and traverse the channel are collected at the drain to complete the current path. The flow between source and drain is controlled by the voltage applied to the gate. See also channel, FET, gate and source.


Dynamic Random Access Memory. The lowest cost and most popular type of semiconductor read/write memory chip, in which the presence or absence of a capacitive charge represents the state of a binary storage element (zero or one). The charge must be periodically refreshed. Pronounced "dee-ram".


Design Rule Check. DRCs measure spacing, overlap, and sizes of all masking dimensions on the layout. This is necessary to ensure that the circuit dimensions will conform to the capabilities of the fabrication process.


Typically, an electronic function used to provide amplification to drive high current loads. Term often used to denote bus drivers that rapidly charge and discharge capacitance. Also used to denote the ability to control power, such as when driving a solenoid or other high-current device.


Digital-Signal Processing. 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 rapidly replacing analog signal processing functions where requirements for stability over time and temperature variations are critical. DSP is used to enhance, analyze, filter, modulate, or otherwise manipulate standard real-world 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). Intersil offers building blocks and special function chips for DSP, including fast multipliers, multiplier accumulators, image processors, histogrammers, and digital filters.

dual in-line package

See DIP.


Defect and Yield Management. See yield.



Electron beam. Refers to a machine that produces a stream of electrons (electron beam) that can be used to expose photo-resists that are sensitive to such beams. Can be used to expose resists directly on a wafer or on a mask. Electron-beam lithography is a direct-write microprinting technique.


Enhanced Back-diffused High-Frequency. A Intersil standard bipolar process technology that is optimized for very high performance with semicustom tile arrays and semicustom parametric analog cell capabilities. It is available with either single- or double-level metal interconnects and can be used in either plastic or hermetic packages.

ECL circuit

Emitter-Coupled Logic circuit. ECL circuits use bipolar transistors biased in the active region. They are a very fast high-power digital technology commonly used in logic circuits.


Electronic Design Interchange Format. A standardized exchange language for design information.


Electrically-Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. Similar to PROM, but with the capability of selective erasure of information through special electrical stimulus. Information stored in EEPROM chips is retained when the power is turned off. Compare PROM.


Motion of ions of a metal conductor (such as aluminum) in response to the passage of high current through it. Such motion can lead to the formation of "voids" in the conductor, which can grow to a size where the conductor is unable to pass current. Electromigration is aggravated at high temperature and high current density and therefore is a reliability "wear-out" process. Electromigration is minimized by limiting current densities and by adding metal impurities such as copper or titanium to the aluminum.


An elementary atomic particle that carries the smallest negative electric charge (1.6x10-19 coulombs). Electrons are light in mass, (1/1837 of the mass of the hydrogen atom), highly mobile, and orbit the nucleus of an atom.


Electrical OverStress is a transient or steady state electrical condition that exceeds the specifications and/or capabilities of a device. Both the magnitude and duration of an EOS event can vary. Examples of mild EOS are oxide ruptures and junction damage with signs of visual stress. Severe EOS may include massive vaporization of bond wires or aluminum interconnects and carbonizing of plastic packages. See ESD.


Electron Probe MicroAnalysis.


One of the three regions that form a bipolar transistor. Under forward bias of the emitter-base P-N junction, the emitter injects minority carriers (electrons or holes) into the base region where they either recombine or diffuse into the collector. The flow of minority carriers from the emitter to the collector is controlled by the base-emitter P-N junction, thereby giving rise to signal amplification. See also base, bipolar transistor and collector.

engineering workstation

A desktop computer with application software for computer-aided engineering (CAE) or computer-aided design (CAD) applications, e.g., a Sun workstation with Cadence software and the Intersil FASTRACK design system. See CAD, CAE, and FASTRACK.

enhancement-mode FET

An FET designed so that its channel is fully depleted. It is in the "off" state with zero voltage applied to the gate. This configuration is attractive for low quiescent power. See also channel, depletion-mode FET, FET, gate and source.


The controlled growth on a crystalline substrate of a crystalline layer, called an epilayer. In "homo-epitaxy" (e.g., silicon layers on a silicon substrate) the epilayer exactly duplicates the properties and crystal structure of the substrate. In "hetero-epitaxy" (e.g., silicon on sapphire) the deposited epilayer is a different material with a different crystalline structure than that of the substrate.


Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. Similar to PROM, but allows stored information to be erased. Refers to a non-volatile memory device whose contents can be erased by exposure to ultraviolet light. See also PROM, EEPROM.


Electrical Rules Check. Software that verifies that a schematic shows a reasonable connection of circuit elements. Compare DRC.


ElectroStatic Discharge as its name implies is a static buildup of electrons that is then discharged. The magnitude of ESD can vary widely, but the duration of a pulse is usually very short. An ESD event can result in junction failure, contact damage, filamentation, oxide thermal damage, oxide breakdown, charge injection and fusing (opening) of interconnects. Today there are three types of accepted ESD models: the human body model, the charge device model, and the machine model. The root cause of ESD typically is improper handling. This can be augmented by low humidity, ungrounded equipment and poor device design. See EOS.


The process of removing material from a wafer (such as oxides or other thin films) by chemical, electrolytic or plasma (ion bombardment) means. Examples: nitride etch, oxide etch.



Failure Analysis.


Fabrication. In semiconductor manufacturing, fabrication usually refers to the front-end process of making devices and integrated circuits in semiconductor wafers, but does not include the package assembly (back-end) stages.


Field Application Engineer. A term used to describe a Intersil employee specifically engaged in helping customers apply Intersil products in various circuits and designs.


Intersil's open-architecture design system, providing state-of-the-art capabilities for schematic capture, design verification and place and route functions based on Intersil analog, mixed signal, and digital process families. Extremely useful for Intersil and its customers to develop high-performance standard products and custom designs. The analog bipolar FASTRACK system won EDN Magazine's Product Innovation of the Year Award in 1990.


A defect in an IC that can cause a failure during operation. Usually caused by processing defects.

fault coverage

The percent of all possible internal faults a circuit can have that are observable from the outside of the IC by a functional test vector set. Typically refers to those faults modelled by a signal stuck to power or ground.

fault simulation

A logic-gate level simulation technique in which the circuit description is modified (faulted) to correspond to a processing defect, and the simulation is re-run to determine whether the test program would find this defect. After many faults are simulated, this gives an indication of the quality (fault coverage) of the test program.


Field Effect Transistor. A solid-state device in which current is controlled between source and drain terminals by voltage applied to a non-conducting gate terminal. See also channel, drain, gate and source.

flat pack

A package having leads that are parallel to the component body. Hermetic flat packs have leads on two or four sides. Plastic flat packs usually have leads on all four sides (plastic quad flat pack). Intersil supplies both plastic and hermetic ceramic flat packs to the military and commercial markets.


Bonding of chips with contact pads, face down, by solder bump connections.


Floorplanning is used at the chip planning stage to efficiently partition the space of the chip in order to minimize area. It is also used in the early stages of layout to investigate tradeoffs in pinout, block placement and rotation, and routing area construction.

forward bias

A voltage applied across a rectifying junction with a polarity that provides a low-resistance conducting path. By contrast, reverse bias causes the junction to block normal current. See P-N junction.


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 term used interchangeably with "glass" as in frit or glass-sealed packages such as CERDIP and CERPACK.

front end

In semiconductor manufacturing, the fabrication process in which the integrated circuit is formed in and on the wafer. Compare back end.


Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometry.


Final Test Yield. See yieid.

functional tests

The application of functional input vectors and the corresponding responses that assure proper operation of a digital IC.



Gallium Arsenide. 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. Electrons in GaAs travel at twice the speed of those of silicon.


Gallium Arsenide Field Effect Transistor. A high-frequency voltage-controlled current amplifier similar to a silicon MOSFET. Also called GaAs MESFET (gallium arsenide metal semiconductor field effect transistor).


(1) The control electrode in a field-effect transistor (FET). A voltage applied to the gate regulates the conducting properties of the semiconductor channel region, which is usually located directly beneath the gate. In a MESFET (metal semiconductor field effect transistor), the gate is in intimate contact with the semiconductor. In a MOSFET (metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor), it is separated from the semiconductor by a thin oxide, typically 100-1000 angstroms thick. (2) A combination of transistors which form a circuit that performs a logic function, such as NAND or NOR. See also channel, drain, FET, MESFET, MOSFET and source.

gate array

A semicustom IC consisting of a regular arrangement of gates that are interconnected through one or more layers of metal to provide custom functions. Generally, gate arrays are preprocessed up to the first interconnect level so they can be quickly processed with final metal to meet a customer's specified function.

gate length

Physical distance between source and drain of a MOS transistor measured on the photomask plate. Also called "patterned" or "drawn" gate length. When determined from the actual transistor characteristics, called "effective" gate length. See source and drain.


A common lead form used to interconnect surface mounted packages to the printed-circuit board.



The physical components of a circuit or system, both passive and active.

harsh environment

Conditions such as radiation exposure, temperature extremes, vibration, and dirt encountered by the military, on factory floors, and under the hoods of automobiles. Addressed by radiation hardening ICs and other rugged process technologies, an area in which Intersil is a world leader. See radiation hardened circuit.


A Intersil BiCMOS mixed-signal wafer process developed to provide high integration of logic as well as precision analog capability. It has also been optimized for both A-to-D and D-to-A data conversion. See BiCMOS, A/D converter, D/A converter.

high-level language

An application-oriented programming language, as distinguished from a machine-oriented programming language. The instruction approach is closer to the needs of the problems to be solved than it is to the language of the machine on which it is to be run. Examples are Ada, C, COBOL, FORTRAN, Lisp and Pascal.


A mobile electron vacancy in a semiconductor that acts like a positive electron charge (+1.6x10-19 coulomb) with a positive mass. Unoccupied spot among the electrons that are bound in their orbits. Under the application of an electric field, holes move in the opposite direction from electrons, thereby producing an electric current. Holes are induced into an integrated circuit by adding small quantities of an acceptor dopant to the host silicon crystal. See acceptor.


High-Voltage Integrated Circuit. Utilizes DI (dielectric isolation) and JI (junction isolation) technologies to provide circuits that convert high-voltage incoming AC lines (120 and 240 volts, for example) to regulated DC output. A key point of Intersil's analog strategy in applying existing process capabilities to new markets, HVICs are cost-effective monolithic replacements for transformers, rectifiers and regulators. See DI and JI.

hybrid circuit

(1) A combination of passive and active subminiature devices on an insulating substrate to perform a complete circuit function. (2) A combination of one or more integrated circuits with one or more discrete components. (3) The combination of more than one type of integrated circuit into a single package.



Integrated Circuit. Plural: ICs (no apostrophe). See integrated circuit.


Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor. A four-layer discrete power device that combines the characteristics of a power MOS transistor and a thyristor. IGBT devices are usually found in high-voltage circuits (above 300V) because they can be prepared with significantly lower values of RDS(on) than a power MOSFET with the same die size. Also referred to as "COMFETs," "GEMFETs" and "IGTs". Intersil is the inventor of the basic IGBT mechanism, and is a world leader in advanced IGBT technology. See RDS(on).


Insulated Gate Field Effect Transistor. See MOSFET.


In-Line Monitor.

image processing

The use of computers and sophisticated mathematical algorithms to analyze, enhance, and interpret digitized images.


Integrated Manufacturing Production Resource Scheduling System. An Intersil software tool that produces production plans based upon customer demand forecasts and manufacturing capabilities. The system was developed by Intersil to integrate forecasting, material procurement, planning, and order-entry processes as they relate to worldwide manufacturing requirements. Customer delivery dates are generated interactively and are based upon a global manufacturing production plan.


In semiconductor technology, a material such as boron, phosphorus or arsenic added in small quantities to a crystal to produce an excess of electrons (donor impurity) or holes (acceptor impurity). Also called "dopant".


See I/O.


A material that is a poor conductor of electricity or heat, and used to separate conductors from one another or to protect personnel from active electrical devices. Examples: silicon dioxide (glass), silicon nitride, rubber, ceramics, wood.

integrated circuit (IC)

An electronic circuit 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.

Intelligent DiscreteTM

A power MOSFET that contains more than one active element or that allows non-intrusive current monitoring. Intersil intelligent discrete devices, for example, provide current-limiting and thermal-limiting functions to conventional power MOSFET capabilities. See MOSFET.

Intelligent Power ICTM

A circuit in which power, logic and analog functions are integrated on the same semiconductor chip. Intersil has an extensive library of general-function standard cells that are used to fabricate such circuits.


The conductive path required to achieve connection from one circuit element to others in a circuit.


Input/Output. Generally refers to the external connections of an IC that tie it to the outside world. Supply pins and control pins are usually not considered I/O.


An atom that has either gained or lost electrons, making it a charged particle (either positive or negative).

ion implantation

A means for adding dopants to semiconductor material. Charged atoms (ions) of elements such as boron, phosphorus or arsenic are accelerated by an electric field into the semiconductor material. Especially useful for very shallow (<1µm) distributions of dopants in a semiconductor. Ion implantation is usually done at room temperature, with the resulting implantation-induced lattice damage removed by annealing at temperatures of approximately 700oC. More precise than diffusion doping.


Integrated Yield Management. See yield.



See junction field effect transistor.


See junction isolation.


Just In Time. Term used in manufacturing to denote requirement for delivery of products to the customer exactly when specified--neither too soon nor too late. The objective is to reduce inventory level (work in process, as well as finished goods). Such inventory reductions, in turn, lower storage expense and reduce manufacturing cycle times.


Joint Test Action Group. (1) Test standards group working on boundary scan and standard test interfaces. (2) Any of the standards approved by this group. Some Intersil design libraries provide cells to implement the chip-level standards, and design information is available for most other libraries.


The interface plane within a semiconductor crystal, at which the number of P- and N-type carriers are exactly equal, with a surplus of P-type on one side of the junction and N-type on the other.

junction field effect transistor (JFET)

A semiconductor device that operates by altering the conductivity of a region of the semiconductor (the channel) between two contacts (source and drain) by application of a voltage to a third terminal (gate). The current flow between source and drain is controlled by the gate voltage. In a JFET device, the gate voltage is applied to the channel across a P-N junction, in contrast to its application across an insulator in a conventional MOSFET. JFETs are of two types: P-channel and N-channel, depending on whether the channel is N-type or P-type. See FET, MOSFET.

junction isolation (JI)

A fabrication technique by which components in an integrated circuit are separated or electrically isolated from each other by P-N junctions. Bipolar ICs generally begin with a P-type wafer into which a buried layer pattern is first diffused. Then the N-type epitaxial layer is grown, and P-type isolation wells are diffused around each area that is to be electrically isolated from the other circuitry. Compare dielectric isolation.


k, or kilo

Generally a prefix meaning a multiple of 1000 (x103). Symbol: k. In digital systems, a symbol for 210 or 1024 bits.


The width of cut made by a saw or other means during the process of separating a wafer into individual integrated circuits or dice. Kerf and 'scribe line' are also used to denote the area between integrated circuits on a wafer. See die, IC, scribe and break and wafer.


1024 bits.


1024 bytes (8192 bits). Symbol: KB. See byte.


Known-Good-Die (KGD) are bare ICs that are equivalent to packaged parts in testability and reliability, giving customers the same assurance that the device has been tested to the same specifications as its conventionally packaged counterparts. See IC.



An undesirable phenomenon in which either a PNPN or an NPNP thyristor-type parasitic structure suddenly turns to an "on" state, thereby bypassing or shorting out portions of an IC. To prevent latch-up, Intersil uses either epitaxy layers to avoid diffused pockets or a retrograde P-well, which is designed to specifically avoid latch-up. See epitaxy


Leadless Chip Carrier. A surface-mounted package having metallized contacts (terminals) at its periphery. Usually made of ceramic material.


Lightly Doped Drain. See doping and drain.


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 electrical device.


Light-Emitting Diode. A semiconductor P-N junction diode that emits light under forward-bias conditions. The wavelength of the emitted light is a function of the semiconductor material. The crystal structure of silicon does not provide useful levels of light emission, but the structure of GaAs does, with an infrared emission wavelength.


The term used to designate the collection of representations required by the various design tools. These representations, such as symbol, simulation model, layout abstract, transistor schematic, are used by the different tools in the design system to create or analyze some portion of the IC or otherwise aid in the design process. Creating a design library is effectively inserting the fabrication technologies into the design system in a form that allows designers to create circuits in the most efficient manner.


(1) Having an output that varies in direct proportion to the input. (2) A ratio in which a change in one of two related quantities is accompanied by a directly proportional change in the other.

linear device

An amplifying-type, analog device with a linear input/output relation, as opposed to a non-linear, digital device, which is either completely "on" or completely "off" over large ranges of input signals.

linear integrated circuit

A circuit whose output is an amplified, linear version of its input or whose output is a predetermined variation of its input. A class of integrated circuits that process analog information expressed as voltages or currents.

linear regulators

Linear regulators use linear, non-switching techniques to regulate the voltage output from the power supply. The regulator’s resistance varies according to the load and results in a constant output voltage. All linear regulators require an input voltage at least some minimum amount higher than the desired output voltage. That minimum amount is called the dropout voltage. A low-dropout or LDO regulator is a DC linear regulator which can regulate the output voltage even when the supply voltage is very close to the output voltage. Linear regulators are a great choice for powering very low powered devices or applications where the difference between the input voltage and output voltage is small. They are a simple and cheap solution, but linear regulators are normally inefficient because the difference between the input voltage and regulated output voltage is continually dissipated as heat.

Linear Regulator Diagram


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. See also aligner, mask, stepper, and X-ray lithography.


LOCalized Oxidation Of Silicon. See silicon.


Mathematical treatment of formal logic in which a system of symbols is used to represent quantities and relationships. AND, OR and NOT are examples of symbols of logical functions. Each function can be translated into a switching circuit, or gate. Since a switch (or gate) has only two states--open or closed--it makes possible the application of binary numbers for solution of problems. The basic logic functions obtained from gate circuits is the foundation of computing machines. Intersil manufactures a broad line of logic circuits in CMOS technology.

logic-level MOSFET

A MOSFET with low operating voltages that can operate directly from a microprocessor or 5V logic instead of from the 10V usually supplied by IC buffer stages. Logic-level MOSFETs can eliminate the need for buffers. See MOSFET.

logic optimization

Optimization of logic circuits for either area or speed using a tool such as the Synopsys Design Compiler.

logic synthesis

Synthesis of gate level logic circuits from behavioral descriptions using a tool such as the Synopsys Design Compiler.


Low Pressure Chemical Vapor Deposition. See deposition.


Large-Scale Integration. Integrated circuits containing between 100 and 5000 gate equivalents, or 1000 to 16,000 bits of memory. Over the years, integration levels have progressed from SSI (small-scale integration), MSI (medium-scale integration), and LSI, to today's VLSI (very-large scale integration).

Type Chip Area No. of Gates Memory (bits) Typical Intersil Product
SSI <10k sq-mils <10 ----- Quad 2 input NAND gates
MSI 10-25k sq-mils 10-100 <1000 Set/Reset J-K Flip Flop
LSI 25-100k sq-mils 100-5000 1-16k 82Cxx "Intel" peripherals
VLSI >100k sq-mils >5000 >16k 80C286 µP, NCOM (DSP)
ULSI >1000k sq-mils >50,000 >256k 256k Rad Hard SRAM


Layout Versus Schematic. Compares the electrical design (schematic) with the physical design (layout) to ensure what will be built is what was designed.


machine language

A machine-oriented programming language (as distinguished from a high-level, application-oriented programming language). Since the only language microprocessors can understand is binary, all other programming languages must be translated into binary instruction code before performing the desired instructions.


Manufacturing For Reliability.


A transparent (glass or quartz) plate covered with an array of patterns used in making integrated circuits. Each pattern consists of opaque and transparent areas that define the size and shape of all circuit and device elements. The mask is used to expose selected areas of photoresist, which defines areas to be etched. Masks may use emulsion, chrome, iron oxide, silicon or other material to produce the opaque areas.


Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation. A cooperative R&D consortium whose mission is to strengthen and sustain the competitiveness of member companies who share common elements of a technical vision in information technology. MCC's membership currently includes 22 shareholders and 38 associate members. Research programs include projects in areas such as software technology, computer-aided design, advanced computing technology, displays, holographic storage, power sources, superconductivity, and distributed information systems. Intersil has been a member of MCC since its founding in 1985.


See multi-chip module.


MOS Controlled Thyristor. A power device that combines a MOS transistor as the gate and a thyristor as the power source. This composite device has the lowest forward voltage drop of any voltage-controlled power source, including power MOSFETs and IGBTs. Intersil is recognized as the world leader in MCT technology. See IGBT, power MOSFET and thyristor.

mega or M

A prefix meaning a multiple of one million (x106). Symbol: M.


Roughly one million bits, or 1,048,576 bits.


1024 kilobytes, or 1,048,576 bytes, or 8,388,608 bits. Symbol: MB. See byte.


A term used by Intersil to describe our latest generation of power MOSFETs that provide a cell density of 1.9 million cells per square inch. MegaFETs are available for voltages as high as 1200V and provide on-resistance values as low as 10 milliohm.


A dose of radiation equal to 106 Rads. Sometimes stated as Megarad(Si) or Megarad(SiO2), indicating the equivalent material absorbing the radiation. See RAD.


General term for computer hardware that stores information in electrical or magnetic form. Memories accept and hold binary numbers only. Memory types are core and semiconductor.

memory integrated circuit

An integrated circuit consisting of memory cells and usually including associated circuits such as those for address selection and amplification. A class of integrated circuits that store digital information, the information being expressed in binary numbers. Examples of memory ICs are ROMs, Dynamic and Static RAMs, EPROMs and EEPROMs.


MEtal-Semiconductor FET. A type of FET in which the channel is formed directly beneath a metal gate, which itself is in intimate contact with the semiconductor. Compare with MOSFET, where the gate is separated from the semiconductor by a thin insulating oxide layer. Commonly used in III-V materials, such as GaAs, where the gate oxide needed to form a MOSFET is inferior to that in silicon. See channel, GaAs and gate.


The process of depositing a thin film of conductive metal onto a substrate and patterning it to form the desired interconnection arrangement. Metal layers are typically 1-2 micron thick in ICs, but several times thicker in power devices.

metal-oxide varistor

See MOV.


A prefix meaning one-millionth (x10-6). Symbol: µ. Also jargon for microprocessor, microcomputer, microcontroller.


(1) A computer system whose processing unit is a microprocessor; (2) A microprocessor, complete with stored program memory--read-only memory (ROM), random-access memory (RAM), and input/output (I/O) logic on a single chip. Microcomputers are capable of performing useful work without additional supporting logic.


A single-chip microcomputer with on-board program ROM and I/O that can be programmed for various control functions.


One-millionth (x10-6) of a meter, or about 40 millionths of an inch. Synonymous with micron. Symbol: µm.


Older term for micrometer. A metric unit of linear measure which equals one millionth of a meter. Symbol: µm


(1) A central processing unit (CPU) fabricated on one or more chips, containing the basic arithmetic, logic, and control elements of a computer that are required for processing data; (2) An integrated circuit that accepts coded instructions, executes the instructions received, and delivers signals that describe its internal status. The instructions may be entered or stored internally. Also called "MPU" (microprocessor unit). Widely used as control devices for household appliances, business machines, toys, etc., as well as for microcomputers. Intersil is the industry leader in 16-bit CMOS microprocessors.


One-thousandth of an inch (x10-3 inches). Equal to 25.4 microns.


Prefix meaning one-thousandth (x10-3). Symbol: m.


MIcrowave/millimeter wave Monolithic Integrated Circuit. Directed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the MIMIC program was established to enhance producibility and reduce the production cost of gallium arsenide (GaAs) microwave integrated circuits. In this sense, MIMIC is the GaAs microwave industry's equivalent of the VHSIC program.


Million Instructions Per Second.

mixed signal IC

An integrated circuit that has both digital and analog functions on the same semiconductor chip, permitting a high degree of system integration. Intersil mixed signal ICs are of three types: (1) In those optimized for analog, the major part of the design is analog with a small digital content; (2) In those optimized for power, the circuit has analog, digital and power functions; (3) In those optimized for digital, the major part of the design is digital with some analog content. Intersil recently introduced a cell library for mixed signal optimized for analog, called HBC2500. The library is supported by a double-metal, double-poly BiCMOS process with 3µm CMOS and 300-MHz bipolar transistors.

mixed signal simulation

A mixed signal simulator simulates the analog portions of the circuit with a very accurate circuit simulator, the digital portions with an efficient event-driven simulator, and the switched capacitor portions with a special-purpose switched capacitor simulator. An example is the Verilog cdsSPICE.SCAN simulation in the Intersil FASTRACK Design System. See FASTRACK.


See Multilayer TVS.


Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit. Combining active elements (diodes and transistors) with passive elements (resistors, capacitors, inductors and transmission lines) on a single GaAs (gallium arsenide) substrate, MMICs replace conventional "chip and wire" microwave circuits. As amplifiers, attenuators or switches at microwave frequencies, MMICs offer benefits of reduced size, lower unit cost, and reliability.


The velocity of a charged particle attained under the action of an applied electric field. Units are cm2/V-Sec.

module generation

The automatic construction of major pieces of circuit function by specifying parameters controlling the structure and/or performance of the function. Examples are RAM, ROM, PLA, datapath, state machine, registers, multiplexers, and standard logic families.

monolithic circuit

Same as integrated circuit. A circuit fabricated within a single body of semiconductor material. This single body of material is referred to as an integrated circuit die. Compare hybrid circuit.


Metal Oxide Semiconductor. A wafer process for fabricating MOSFET devices in either IC or discrete form. See MOSFET.


Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor. A class of voltage-driven devices that do not require the large input drive currents of bipolar devices. MOSFETs are a type of field-effect transistor that operates and functions similar to a junction field effect transistor. The distinction is that in the MOS device the controlling gate voltage is applied to the channel region across an oxide insulating material, rather than across a P-N junction. The term can be applied either to transistors in an IC or to discrete power devices. The major advantage of a MOSFET is low power due to its insulation from source and drain. Other advantages are its process simplicity, savings in chip real estate, and the ease of interconnection on chip. MOSFETs are of both P-channel and N-channel types. Sometimes called "insulated gate field effect transistor" (IGFET). Although Intersil produces these devices with both metal or polycrystalline silicon as the gate electrode, the generic MOSFET term is used for both. See channel, drain, gate and source.

MOS transistor

Same as MOSFET.


Metal-Oxide Varistor. A varistor having a sintered zinc-oxide element and a symmetrical voltage-current characteristic. Such devices provide bi-directional transient suppression capability, enabling them to protect circuits against transient over-voltage occurring from opposite directions. These devices absorb very large amounts of energy--up to 10k joules. Intersil MOVs come with many different packaging options that address a variety of applications, from small circuit boards to lightning arresters. The majority of Intersil MOVs carry UL approval. All Intersil MOVs are manufactured in Dundalk, Ireland. See multilayer TVS and surgector.


MicroProcessor Unit. Sometimes used synonymously with microprocessor. See CPU.


Medium-Scale Integration. A term generally applied to integrated circuit chips containing ten or more gate equivalents, but less than 100. Also applies to memory devices with fewer than 1k (1024) bits of memory. See LSI, SSI, VLSI.


Million Samples Per Second. Measurement of time used predominately in referencing data acquisition and DSP.

multi-chip module

A hybrid-type package containing a number of integrated circuits and other components. Used instead of printed circuit boards for applications calling for very high packing densities, high frequencies and high speeds of operation. Intersil, in conjunction with Harris' Electronic Systems Sector, is engaged in an advanced packaging development activity toward perfection of the technology.

multilayer TVS

Multilayer Transient Voltage Suppressor. A type of varistor composed of alternating layers of semiconducting ceramic and electrode material. This combination forms a "stack" that greatly enhances the available cross-sectional area and hence the device current handling capability.

multiplexer (mux)

A device that combines several input signals into a single output signal in such a manner that each of the input signals subsequently can be recovered. At Intersil, an IC consisting of multiple analog CMOS switches and digital decoding, allowing one of many inputs to be passed to the output.


A process of transmitting more than one signal over a single link, route, or channel. Of the two methods in use, parallel processing frequency-shares the bandwidth of a channel in the same way hurdlers run and jump in their assigned lanes, thus permitting a number of contestants to compete simultaneously on the same track. The second method, called serial processing, time-shares multiple signals in the same way that pole vaulters vault over the same bar one after the other. Although serial processing may not seem simultaneous, the signal speed is so fast that it is possible to multiplex four different numbers through a single decoder-driver and have them appear on four different displays without a flicker.


A circuit whose output state is the arithmetic product of two input signals. Important in DSP (digital signal processing) technology for signal processing and power control applications. Intersil offers high-speed analog and digital multipliers. See DSP and signal processing.





An ASCII file containing a description of schematic design elements and their interconnections. Netlist transfer is the most common way of moving designs from one design system or tool to another. The file formats that are used by Intersil are Cadence and EDIF.


Also called "N-Channel MOS" (metal oxide semiconductor). A type of MOSFET in which electrons are the dominant charge carrier in the semiconductor channel. The channel is N-type. NMOS devices run at least twice as fast as PMOS (P-Channel MOS) devices--the oldest type of MOS circuit-- because the mobility of electrons is higher than that of holes. Compare PMOS.


Unwanted acoustic or electromagnetic disturbances, as opposed to desired signals.

non-volatile memory

Any device that faithfully retains its stored information after power is removed. Examples: EPROMS, PALS, bubble memories, rotating magnetic discs, optical memory. See volatile memory.


Non Photo-Non Process Limited Yield.

NPN transistor

A two-junction transistor with an N-type collector and emitter and a P-type base. See bipolar transistor and complementary. Compare PNP transistor.


Non-Recurring Engineering. A one-time charge for photomask development, test and prototype tooling, and associated engineering costs.

ns, nsec

Abbreviations for nanosecond (x10-9 second). One thousandth of a microsecond. Electronic signals travel approximately one foot per nsec.

N-type semiconductor

A semiconductor type in which the density of holes in the valence band is exceeded by the density of electrons in the conduction band. N-type behavior is induced by the addition of donor impurities, such as arsenic or phosphorus, to the crystal structure of silicon. See also acceptor, donor, doping and impurity.


op amp

OPerational AMPlifier. A general purpose integrated circuit used as a basic building block for implementation of linear functions. An op amp's gain and response characteristics are determined by external components. Op amps form the "front end" or sensory apparatus of thousands of electronics systems, capturing weak signals emanating from the real world and amplifying them for processing. Intersil offers the industry's broadest range of op amp ICs, as well as op amp cells for designing ASIC versions. See power control circuit and signal processing.

open architecture

A system whose characteristics comply with industry standards and can be connected to other systems that also comply with these standards. Compare closed architecture.

operational amplifier

See op amp.

optical coupler, optocoupler

A device designed to transfer electrical signals by utilizing light waves to provide coupling with electrical isolation between input and output. Sometimes called photocoupler.

optoelectronic device

A device that is responsive to or that emits or modifies light waves. Examples are LEDs, optical couplers, laser diodes, and photo detectors.


See optical coupler.


A voltage in excess of the normal operating voltage of a device or circuit. Many Intersil  products are designed to withstand the effects of over-voltage without damage. See ESD and over-voltage protection.

over-voltage protection

Also referred to as "transient suppression." A term used to describe the built-in capability of an electrical circuit to dissipate or shunt electrical impulse energy at a voltage low enough to ensure the survival of circuit components. Many Intersil ICs, especially Intersil MOVs, are components specifically designed to dissipate high impulse energy and voltage surges in electronic and electrical circuits. Some of Intersil' analog multiplexer products (OVP muxes) offer built-in over-voltage protection.



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.

parametric tests

Tests that measure DC conditions of a chip, such as maximum current, leakage, and output drive.

parasitic extraction

Applies to software that analyzes a layout database and determines the capacitance (and sometimes resistance) of the metal interconnections. These values, which are considered parasitic because they are determined by the placement of the devices rather than as part of the design schematics, are then used in logic or circuit simulations.


Parameter Limited Yield. See yield.


Power ASIC. A versatile power BiMOS process technology co-developed by Intersil and IBM for use in the manufacture of semicustom and ASIC circuits for power applications. This technology can support voltages in the 60-100V range and currents of 5-10A. Sometimes referred to as "intelligent power".


A layer of insulating material deposited over a wafer or a region of a device to stabilize and protect the surface against moisture, contamination, and mechanical damage. Silicon dioxide or silicon nitride are often used for IC passivation.

passive component

An electrical component without gain or current-switching capability. Commonly used when referring to resistors, capacitors and inductors.


Private Branch EXchange. A telecommunications switching facility or service located on the customer's premises. Intersil SLIC circuits are found in most of the world's PBX systems. See SLIC.


Personal Computer, usually an IBM PC or compatible. Also an acronym for Production Control in a manufacturing organization. Can also refer to Printed Circuit when referencing printed circuit boards (PCBs).


Photo Defect Limited Yield. See defect, lithography and yield.


Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition. CVD with the gases first passing through a plasma.  See CVD.

performance node

A performance node is a control parameter which has limited influence on reliability but which does impact the yield, productivity, or other set of economic indices associated with the product or technology. See control parameter, critical node, and characterization node.

performance optimization

Very powerful, advanced, multi-dimensional optimization algorithms are used for optimizing circuit performance using many different behavior criteria. The result is a Intersil product that meets all performance specifications with the greatest possible yield.


Potential Failure Mode and Effects Analysis.


Pin-Grid Array. A packaging technology for high-pin-count packages. Name derives from the array of pins at the bottom of the package. The pins go through holes on a printed circuit board. I/O lead counts as high as 600 can be achieved with PGA packaging designs.

PG Tape

Pattern-Generation Tape. Computerized instructions used to build photomasks.


See optical coupler.


Lithographic techniques involving light as the pattern transfer medium. See lithography.


A light-sensitive liquid that is spread as a uniform thin film on a wafer or substrate. After baking to solidify the liquid, exposure of specific patterns is performed using a photomask. Material remaining after development shields regions of the wafer from subsequent etch or implant operations.


The center-to-center spacing between pads, rows of bumps, pins, posts, leads, etc., on an IC or circuit board.

place and route

The act of placing the physical representations of the circuit functions, either as macro blocks or as rows of standard cells. The signal paths are then routed on the interconnect layers. Currently, two layers of routing are used, with three layers being the next step.


Plastic Leaded Chip Carrier. A leaded quad package--a replacement for the plastic DIP (dual in-line package) in surface-mount applications. External connections consist of leads around all four sides of the package.


P-channel MOS. A type of MOSFET where the semiconductor channel is doped P-type. In such a MOSFET, the current between source and drain is primarily due to the motion of holes. Compare NMOS.

P-N junction

The basic structure formed by the intimate contact of P-type and N-type semiconductors. The important characteristic of a P-N junction is that it will conduct electric current with one polarity of applied voltage (forward bias) but will not conduct with the opposite polarity (reverse bias).

PNP transistor

A semiconductor junction transistor with a P-type collector and emitter, and an N-type base. In such a device, the current amplification arises from the injection of holes from the emitter into the base, and their subsequent collection in the collector. See bipolar transistor and complementary. Compare NPN transistor.

power BiMOS

  1. Circuits with the capability of interfacing higher voltages and current levels than conventional BiMOS circuits. See BiMOS.
  2. An advanced Intersil wafer process that combines analog, digital and power capabilities in a single IC. This Double-Layer-Metal (DLM) process is being developed in Findlay, Ohio. It features complementary vertical MOS power output transistors and 16V operation to support commercial and industrial applications in plastic packages. See DLM.

power control circuit

System power supply control functions and output drive, allowing electronic systems to do actual work for such diverse applications as motors, video, and computer disk drives. Examples of Intersil power control ICs are voltage regulators, rectifiers, and high current drivers.

power discrete

See discrete device and intelligent discrete.

power MOSFET

A MOSFET circuit capable of handling current ratings of more than 1 ampere. Intersil power MOSFETs have current-handling capabilities as high as 100A and voltage-handling capabilities up to 1200V. See MOSFET.

power transistor

A transistor capable of being used at current ratings of more than 1 ampere. Intersil bipolar and MOS power transistors have current handling capabilities up to 100A and voltage handling capabilities to 1200V.


Plastic Quad Flat Pack. A type of plastic package that has leads on all four sides.

printed circuit

A circuit in which the wires or components have been replaced by a conductive pattern printed upon or bonded to the surface of an insulating board.


Programmable Read-Only Memory. A read-only memory that can be written to only once. Programmed after manufacture by external equipment. Typically, PROMs utilize fusible links that may be burned open to set a specific memory location to a specific logic level. Intersil invented the PROM, and still markets these devices for military applications.

PTM time

Product-To-Market time. The time required to develop a new product, measured from the initiation of a development program to product introduction.

P-type semiconductor

A semiconductor type in which the density of electrons in the conduction band is exceeded by the density of holes in the valence band. P-type behavior is induced by the addition of acceptor impurities, such as boron, to the crystal structure of silicon. See also acceptor, doping, donor and impurity.


Physical Vapor Deposition. A process for depositing a thin film on a wafer that involves aiming a stream of gas at a target. Secondary emission releases material from the target which is then deposited on the wafer.   This process is also know as sputtering.


Pulse-Width Modulation. A form of analog control in which the duration of digital pulses is varied analogously with the signal of interest.



Quality Function Deployment. A methodology for developing products that meet the "voice" or needs of the customer.


Qualified Manufacturer's List per military standard.

quality control

A term denoting the functions or collection of duties that must be performed in order to carry out a company's quality objective. In some companies, quality control refers to a limited function, such as analysis of quality data or inspection of products before shipment to customers and discard or rework of flawed ones. At Intersil, quality control (more often called Total Quality Management, or TQM) refers to a broad set of programs and responsibilities at all levels of the organization aimed at detecting and preventing errors at every step in the manufacturing process, from order entry through fabrication, packaging, shipment and invoicing the customer.

Quality First initiative

An extensive and long-term initiative throughout Intersil Corporation with three major objectives: (1) To increase customer satisfaction; (2) Grow the company by growing new products; and (3) Make continuous improvements in everything every business unit of the company does. The Quality First initiative is far more comprehensive in scope than application to products alone. Embedded in the initiative are such programs as Just In Time, Quality Involvement, Quality Audits, Employee Improvement Teams, and Total Quality Systems Reviews. The ultimate objective is a quantum and fundamental change in the way Intersil does business, moving away from traditional, vertical management structures toward cross-functional teams. At the heart of the concept is customer satisfaction and the notion that end (external) customers are best satisfied as the result of a chain of satisfied internal customers.



Repeatability and Reproducibility.

race condition

The situation arising when inputs to a gate traverse parallel, but different, circuit paths. Differing path delays can result in unpredictable signal arrival times at a gate, and uncertain transition time for the output of the gate.


Specifies the amount of energy transferred to a material by ionizing radiation. One rad is equal to the energy of 100 ergs per gram of material. The material must be specified, because the energy differs with each material. 1 rad-Si=100 ergs/grams of silicon.


RADiation HARDened.

rad-hard: tactical

Terminology used to describe products or programs that must be capable of surviving and operating in medium levels of radiation, usually total-dose environments. Circuits requiring up to 50k rads-Si are considered tactical rad hard.

radiation hardened circuit

An electronic circuit protected against damage from radiation for use in space, high altitude flight and nuclear applications. Special processing techniques are used to make insulators more resistant.


Random-Access Memory. A memory that may be written to, or read from any address location in any sequence. Also called a read/write memory. Random access in the sense of providing access to any storage location in the memory. Stores digital bits temporarily and can be rapidly changed as required. RAM constitutes the basic read/write storage element in computers. See DRAM and SRAM.


The resistance between drain and source of a forward-biased power MOSFET at a specified drain current and gate voltage. Intersil MegaFETS have on-resistance values as low as 10 milliohms. See also MegaFET, power MOSFET, and diode.


A photomask used in a stepper. See mask, photolithography and stepper.


An advanced Intersil wafer process that will support high-speed 256k rad-hard SRAMS. The process features 0.8µm feature size and SIMOX substrates. This process is expected to extend Intersil's technology lead in rad-hard CMOS beyond that currently provided by TSOS4. See SRAM, and TSOS4.


Reduced Instruction Set Computer (or Chip). A type of processor architecture that processes programs more quickly than conventional microprocessors because it uses a smaller, less complex set of instructions. Compare CISC.


Read-Only Memory. A memory in which the binary information located at each address is fixed and cannot be changed subsequently. Permanently stores information repeatedly used, such as tables of data, characters for electronic displays, etc. In its virgin state, the ROM consists of a mosaic of undifferentiated cells. One type of ROM is programmed by mask pattern as part of the last fabrication stage. Another popular type known as PROM, is programmable in the field with the aid of programmer equipment. Programmed data stored in ROMs are often called firmware. Compare EPROM.


on-Resistance. The output resistance of a power switching device when it is forward biased to the fully "on" or conducting state. Especially important in high-current switches, where the voltage drop across the power device must be minimized. In a power MOSFET, R(on) is the same as RDS(on). See microcontroller.

rugged, ruggedized

A term associated with MOSFETs or IGBTs that are designed, manufactured and tested to an avalanche energy specification. Also refers to electronic systems or devices that have been strengthened or modified for better resistance to wear, stress and abuse--for example, in space or under battlefield conditions or conditions of severe weather or dirt. See radiation hardened circuit.



Selected Area Chemical Vapor Deposition. See deposition.


(1) Served Available Market. That segment of the marketplace that is actually addressed by the human and capital resources of an enterprise. (2) Statistical Analysis and Modeling Menu. A modeling system within FASTRACK that allows geometry-dependent analog simulations to model a large number of possible process variations, thus predicting the range of behaviors of the chip across wafer runs. See FASTRACK.

sample and hold (S/H)

A system or IC in which a sample of an analog input signal is frozen in time and held while it is converted to a digital representation or otherwise processed. Intersil sample and hold ICs are the fastest in the industry. Abbreviation: S/H.


Successive Approximation Register. An A/D conversion method where the input voltage is compared to the output of a sequentially programmed D/A converter. First, the most significant bit (MSB) of the D/A is turned on and compared to the analog input. If the input is greater than the D/A output, the MSB is left on; otherwise it is turned off. This process is then repeated for all other bits in decreasing order until the least significant bit (LSB) is reached.


Switched Capacitor ANalysis. A simulator available in FASTRACK that simulates a switched capacitor design. See FASTRACK.


Source Control Drawing. A specification for a military semiconductor device that is specific to a program, a vendor, or a customer. Compare thyristor.

scribe and break

The procedure used to separate a processed wafer into individual ICs. Narrow channels between individual ICs are mechanically weakened by scratching with a diamond tip (scribe), sawing with a diamond blade, or burning with a laser. The wafer is mechanically stressed and broken apart along the channels (called scribe lines), thereby separating the individual ICs (dice).


Joining the package case header or substrate to its cover or lid.


SEmiconductor MAnufacturing TECHnology research consortium. A consortium of 14 American semiconductor manufacturing firms dedicated to restoring America's manufacturing leadership in semiconductors. Located in Austin, Texas, half of its annual funding is provided by its member companies and half by the federal government. Research results are transferred to member firms and to the government for both commercial and military applications. Intersil was a charter member of SEMATECH.


A class of materials, such as silicon and germanium, whose electrical properties lie between those of conductors (such as copper and aluminum) and insulators (such as glass and rubber). A material that exhibits relatively high resistance in a pure state and much lower resistance when it contains small amounts of certain impurities. The term is also used to denote electronic devices made from semiconductor materials. See noise.

signal processing

A broad class of 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. See analog signal processing and digital signal processing.


A solid element that is abundantly available in the form of SiO2 (glass). It is element 14 in the periodic table, with an atomic weight of 28.09. Silicon has a diamond crystal lattice, a density of 2.328 g/cm3 and a melting point of 1415oC. Its extreme abundance, moderate processing temperatures, and the stability of its native oxide (SiO2) have made it the electronic semiconductor material of choice for nearly four decades. It supports about $50 billion in IC and discrete sales annually.


See RHD1, Verilog, and VHDL

single in-line package

See PBX.


Subscriber Line Interface Circuit


(verb) To cut into wafers. In semiconductor technology, to cut a crystalline ingot into thin pieces (wafers or slices) upon which the device patterns are subsequently formed. (noun) Another term for wafer. Also, a type of chip architecture that permits the cascading or stacking of devices to increase word bit size.


Simulation Language with Integrated Circuit Emphasis. For the design of the analog portions of mixed signal circuits, the FASTRACK simulation environment consists of a BASIC-like language called SLICE with powerful expression scanning coupled with standard language constructs such as looping, conditionals and arrays, and the ability to call simulators from within the language. With the language, Intersil has built subsystems for statistical analysis, macro-model development, and optimization. Over the years, engineers have written many routines for setting up simulation structures for a particular performance assessment and many routines for analyzing the outputs of one or multiple simulations. There are probably greater than 100 engineering-years invested in the development of SLICE and its sub-systems.


Single-Level Metal. The use of only one level of metal to form the contact interconnections in an IC. Compare DLM.

smart discrete

See intelligent discrete.


(1) Standard Military Drawing. A military specification developed by the Defense Electronic Supply Center (DESC) for a semiconductor device. The specification applies to all manufacturers of the device. Compare SCD. (2) Surface Mount Device. See dielectric and die.


Silicon-On-Insulator. A composite structure consisting of an active layer of silicon deposited on an insulating material. The insulator can be sapphire (as in SOS), silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, or even an insulating form of silicon itself. The ICs subsequently deposited in the active silicon layer can have advantages of radiation hardness, speed, and high-temperature operation. Intersil is developing SOI technology for a process called RHD1, which is being used for radiation-hardened 256K SRAMS. Compare RHD1.


Small Outline Integrated Circuit. A miniature plastic flat pack designed for surface mount with gull-wing leads. Most versions have lead spacing of 0.05 inches. See channel, drain, FET and gate.


One of three terminals that make up a field-effect transistor (FET). The source is the point where current enters the channel. See channel, drain, FET and gate.


Statistical Process Control. A technique to ensure that a manufacturing process is controlled to the limits of its capability. With SPC, each time a process is monitored its behavior is compared against limits that have been established by statistical data on the same process. Intersil has been one of the industry leaders in applying SPC, and is committed to its use over the full range of manufacturing processes.

specifications, military (for packaging)

The most commonly used military specs for hybrid circuit packaging are MIL-M-38510C, for general microelectronics, and MIL-STD-883A, for test methods.


Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis. Simulator used to model electrical circuits at the transistor level. This popular simulator was developed by UC Berkeley, and has been customized and enhanced by many companies, including Intersil. See PVD.


Static Random Access Memory. A read/write memory in which the data are latched and retained. SRAMs do not lose their contents as long as power is on. This memory does not need to be refreshed as does DRAM. Compare DRAM.


Semiconductor Research Corporation. The SRC is a consortium of more than 60 member companies and government agencies planning and executing programs of applied research at leading U.S. universities to strengthen the competitive ability of the U.S. semiconductor industry. Formed by the Semiconductor Industry Association in 1982, the SRC today is the largest industry-driven research program in the nation. Harris Semiconductor (now Intersil) has been an active member and supporter of the SRC since 1983.


Small-Scale Integration. Integrated circuits containing fewer than ten logic gates. See also MSI, LSI, VLSI.


A switching diode designed for low voltage stabilizing applications.  See diode.

standard cell

Predefined circuit elements that may be selected and arranged to create a custom or semicustom integrated circuit more easily than through original (custom) design. Intersil's comprehensive standard cell libraries provide the building blocks from which designers create ASICs (application specific integrated circuits). See FASTRACK and logic.


A state in which a quantity exhibits no appreciable change over time.

static RAM

See memory.


Steppers are used in the lithography process to manufacture ICs. Silicon wafers are imprinted with individual circuit components when light passes through the stepper and a mask. See lithography, mask, and aligner.


The underlying material on which a microelectronic device is built. Such material may be electrically active, such as silicon, or passive, such as alumina ceramic.


The flow of electric current with negligible resistance in certain metals and alloys and over certain temperature ranges. In recent years, superconductivity has been achieved at temperatures as "high" as -140oC.


Solid-state devices formed by combining a thyristor and a Zener diode. It is designed to protect circuitry and equipment from damage due to transient surges, such as contact with power lines, lightning strikes, induced voltages due to magnetic or electric fields, and static discharges. Protection is provided by diverting the surge current through a low-impedance path around the vulnerable components. Ideal for data communication and telecommunication applications, but cannot be used in DC circuits where available current exceeds holding current. Harris surgectors are designed and produced in Mountaintop, Penn. Compare MOV.


As pertaining to semiconductors, an analog IC (typically CMOS) which, on command, either passes or blocks an electrical signal. Intersil is the leading worldwide supplier of DI (dielectric isolation) and JI (junction isolation) analog switches. See DI and JI.

switched capacitor

A technique commonly used in analog signal processing to create filtering and signal conditioning circuits.

switching regulators

Switching regulators rapidly switches a series element on and off. They can operate with both synchronous and non-synchronous switches (FETs). These devices store the input energy temporarily and then releasing that energy to the output at a different voltage level. The switch’s duty cycle sets the amount of charge transferred to the load. Switching regulators are efficient because the series element is either fully conducting or switched off so it dissipates almost no power. Switching regulators are able to generate output voltages that are higher than the input voltage or of opposite polarity, unlike linear regulators. The versatility of these converters allow configuration for buck, boost, buck-boost, flyback, inverting in isolated and non-isolated applications. Integrated FET regulators are a subset of switching regulators. These microcircuits have integrated the power MOSFET and are considered a whole solution; whereas controllers employ external power MOSFETs. Both configurations are classified as switching regulators because they regulate the output voltage.

Switching Regulator Diagram

symbolic layout and compaction

An advanced way of producing custom quality layouts with reduced manual intervention. The symbols of transistors and interconnects are placed either automatically or manually. From there the compaction algorithms replace the symbolic representation with the correctly sized physical transistors and interconnects and compacts the layout to the limit of the algorithms and ground rules.


An integrated whole that is comprised of diverse interacting, specialized structures and sub-functions. A collection of people, machines (hardware) and software organized to accomplish a set of specific functions.

system-level integration

(1) In semiconductor design and fabrication, packing more and more devices into an IC or designing multi-chip modules that are more and more complex. (2) In electronics in general, the progressive linking and testing of system components into a complete system. See multi-chip module.



Tape Automated Bonding. A process utilizing metal conductors on beam tape that are mass bonded to the integrated circuit in a single operation. TAB offers the advantage of allowing a circuit to be tested at high frequencies and proving it in good condition without the expensive alternative of mounting it in a module for testing, thus avoiding the need to rework modules. Intersil has capability in this technology as well as ongoing development work toward advancement of TAB as an enabling technology for multi-chip modules. See multi-chip module.


Total Available Market. Used to show actual dollars spent in a market.


Telephone communications. See SLICs.


TetraEthylOrthoSilicate, a liquid source oxide deposition with excellent uniformity, step coverage and film properties. Disadvantage is high temperature and liquid source requirements. See deposition.


A descriptor of a general area of circuit design that deals with how testable a particular circuit design is going to be. Specific implementations of structures and test methods that make circuits more testable and provide higher level fault coverage provide better testability. See design for testability (DFT).

test patterns

A sequential listing of the test vectors making up most of a TDL file.


A four-layered solid-state device with two to four leads made up and alternate N and P-type layers. Thyristors act as switches to conduct after a current trigger and while they are forward biased.

tile array

Primarily used in analog ASIC design styles, a tile array is a pre-established layout of electrical devices which can be configured to create a number of different (although related) electrical functions by means of programming the levels of interconnecting material. Since the cost of producing the underlying devices is spread over all designs using a particular tile array, a customer may create very cost-effective solutions to analog design requirements using a high performance Intersil dielectrically isolated process (DI). With tile arrays, customer-specific programming requires only two or three masks rather than 12 or 15.


To coat metallic surfaces with a thin layer of solder.


Testing In Reliability.


Triple-Level Metal. An IC metal interconnect process that employs three vertical levels of metal, separated by insulating layers. Such a dense configuration requires that each metal interconnect layer be made planar before the subsequent layer is deposited. See DLM and SLM.

total dose

Term used to describe the total exposure of an IC to ionizing radiation, typically gamma rays, energetic electrons, or X-rays. Most commercial ICs are very sensitive to ionizing radiation and degrade in their performance upon exposure. Intersil is the number-one supplier of rad-hard circuits, with total dose capabilities ranging from several kilorads to more than a megarad.


Total Quality Management. See Quality First initiative.

transfer molding

The process of forming articles, in a closed mold, from a thermo-setting material that is conveyed under pressure, in a hot, plastic state. All of Intersil's plastic ICs and discrete devices are transfer molded.

transient over-voltage

A condition in electrical circuits resulting from a sudden release of energy. Often this condition is precipitated by a static discharge, lightning, or switching of an inductive load. May occur in repeated fashion or randomly. See over-voltage.

transient radiation

A pulse of ionizing radiation. Transient radiation can cause data upset, device latchup, and destruction of unprotected ICs. Properly designed ICs however, can resist such effects to high levels of transient radiation.

transient suppression

See over-voltage protection.


A three-terminal active semiconductor device that provides current amplification. A bipolar transistor is comprised of base, emitter and collector and is a current-controlled device with a low input impedance. A field-effect transistor has gate, source, and drain electrodes and is a high-impedance, voltage controlled device. The first transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories in 1947 by Nobel-Prize physicists John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Bratain. See base, bipolar transistor, collector, drain, emitter, field-effect transistor, gate, MOSFET and source.


An advanced Intersil wafer process used to prepare rad-hard 64k SOS SRAMs. It features 1.25µm feature size and double-level metal, and is prepared in Intersil's facility at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. See rad-hard and SRAM.


Transistor-Transistor Logic. A bipolar technology used for producing logic gates. Positioned in the evolution of logic families after RTL (resistor transistor logic), DTL (diode transistor logic) and before ECL and CMOS. See gate.


Transient Voltage Suppressor. A general category of devices that protect other electronic circuits, components or systems from destructive transient voltage spikes. The Harris family of TVS types include MOVs, Zener diodes, and surgectors.



Ultra High Frequency. (1) A bonded-wafer process technology used in Melbourne, Fla. for fabrication of enhanced bipolar products, particularly linear and high-frequency operational amplifiers and other linear products. (2) Also, the portion of the radio spectrum between 300 and 3000 megahertz (MHz). This includes television channels 14 through 83, as well as most radar use.


An operating system developed at AT&T Bell Labs by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, and further extended at the University of California, Berkeley, by a number of students, including Bill Joy, one of the founders of Sun Computers. The key feature of Unix is that while all versions of Unix are not the same, it is an open architecture and not proprietary to any hardware vendor. This means that application programs are more easily ported between different versions of Unix than between any other proprietary operating systems. See open architecture.



From "variable-resistor". A non-linear, voltage-dependent device whose electrical behavior provides transient suppression performance. The device absorbs the potentially destructive energy of incoming transient pulses, thereby protecting vulnerable circuit components. Harris varistors are made from zinc oxide in the Dundalk, Ireland manufacturing facility. See MOV.


A Cadence Design Systems logic simulator used in the Intersil FASTRACK design system. See FASTRACK.


VHSIC Hardware Description Language. Originally developed as a language for describing the design of an IC under the VHSIC (Very High Speed Integrated Circuit) program, this language, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, is the military-mandated language for describing hardware functionality as well as a commercially viable standard for high-level descriptions of ICs. VHDL is important to Intersil because it is required by military contracts, and because it is increasingly desired by commercial customers who use it to model systems composed of one or more parts from several vendors. VHDL will probably be the lasting standard among hardware description languages (HDLs). See LSI, MSI and SSI.


Very Large Scale Integration is the process of combining thousands of transistors to create an integrated circuit.

volatile memory

A memory device that does not retain stored information when power is interrupted. See non-volatile memory.


Electromotive force (EMF). One volt is equal to the EMF required to force one ampere of current through one ohm of resistance. Symbol: V.

voltage regulator

A circuit (either an IC or a portion of an IC) whose purpose is to make the output voltage less variable than the input voltage. As an example, a voltage regulator might provide an output of 5 volts ±2% to a logic board from an input of 5 volts ±50%.



A thin slice, typically 10-30 mils thick, sawed from a cylindrical ingot (boule) of bulk semiconductor material (usually silicon), four to eight inches in diameter. Arrays of ICs or discrete devices are fabricated in the wafers during the manufacturing process. See Czochralski, IC, mil, silicon.


Wafer Acceptance Test. See mil.

wire bonding

Process used to make connections between a semiconductor and packaging.


Wafer Level Reliability. See wafer.


X-ray lithography

The lithographic process for transferring patterns to a silicon wafer in which the electromagnetic radiation used is X-ray, rather than visible radiation. The shorter wavelength for X-rays (10-50 angstroms, versus 2000-3000 angstroms for ultra-violet radiation) minimizes diffraction, and extends the useful range of lithography towards 0.1µm. Optical lithography is currently thought to be limited to feature sizes above 0.25-0.3µm. See lithography and angstrom.

X windows

Commercial operating software that overlays the operating system of computers and allows workstation users to manage multiple processes with a graphical interface. Window managers, such as Motif and OpenLook, provide the specific user interface to X.



Yield Enhancement Analysis. See yield.


The percent of wafers, dice, or packaged units conforming to specifications. The most common yields in the manufacturing process are: wafer fab yield (percentage of the wafers that complete wafer processing); wafer probe yield (the fraction of dice on a wafer that meet device specifications); assembly yield (percent of units that are assembled correctly); and final test yield (percent of packaged units that pass all device specifications).


Zener diode

A semiconductor P-N junction diode that has a controlled reverse-bias breakdown voltage, and is used to supply (clamp) a specific voltage for other protected components (for example in an IC). The Zener effect describes a tunnel breakdown phenomenon that is restricted to less than 5V. However, Zener diodes are traditionally used to describe any reverse-bias P-N junction device used to supply a specific voltage, even those of several hundred volts.