Technical Terms and Definitions

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Chip - Hardware

A small piece of semiconducting material (usually silicon) on which an integrated circuit is embedded. A typical chip is less than -square inches and can contain millions of electronic components (transistors). Computers consist of many chips placed on electronic boards called printed circuit boards.

There are different types of chips. For example, CPU chips (also called microprocessors) contain an entire processing unit, whereas memory chips contain blank memory.

Chips come in a variety of packages. The three most common are:

  • DIPs : Dual in-line packages are the traditional buglike chips that have anywhere from 8 to 40 legs, evenly divided in two rows.
  • PGAs : Pin-grid arrays are square chips in which the pins are arranged in concentric squares.
  • SIPs : Single in-line packages are chips that have just one row of legs in a straight line like a comb.
In addition to these types of chips, there are also single in-line memory modules (SIMMs), which consist of up to nine chips packaged as a single unit.