The disadvantages of integrated circuits

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The disadvantages of integrated circuits
Microchips can be manufactured to sizes as small as a fingernail. (microchip (green) 3 image by maxuser from Fotolia.com)

Integrated circuits are also known as chips, microchips or microcircuits, among other terms. These devices are the building blocks for modern-day mobile phones and personal computers. As many advantages as these components have, there are also several key disadvantages, which the electronics industry must continually fight in order to stay ahead of its own development curve.

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A Lack of Flexibility

Integrated circuits lack flexibility in that the hardware parameters the system is created with cannot be upgraded to accomplish more complicated tasks. If an upgrade in functionality is desired or needed, an entirely new system must be developed. While this advances the march of technology, it also creates a surplus of obsolete equipment. To help fight this issue, many integrated circuit designers, such as personal computer manufacturers, have created systems with empty "upgrade slots" where users are able to increase the performance of the device without the need to purchase an entirely new system. Upgrade potential is, of course, limited and as functionality demands increase, a new system is eventually required.

High Power Requirements

Integrated circuits require significant power to operate. The devices also use high currents and voltage, which often requires the use of an integrated fan or cooling system to keep the circuitry from burning out. Once heat damage occurs in the system, it's almost impossible to repair without a wholesale replacement of the integrated circuit. If this is a personal computer, the entire motherboard may have to be replaced if portions of the circuitry have been melted due to operational heat damage.

Moore's Law

According to the website for Electronics Tutorials, in 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore stated the number of transistors and resistors present on a single integrated circuit chip would double every 18 months. This estimate appears to have been conservative, being that as of 2010, Intel creates integrated circuit chips with over 1.7 billion transistors and resistors on them. As a result, by the time you purchase a device with an integrated circuit, it may already be obsolete. It is all but impossible to stay completely current in this electronic realm.

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