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Discrete circuits include individual electronic components including resistors, capacitors, and diodes, as opposed to integrated circuits (ICs), which include these components on a chip. Proponents of discrete circuits argue that because discrete components are larger, they carry a higher voltage and are less susceptible to electrical interference. Discrete circuits may also be desirable in developing application-specific designs, where it can occasionally be difficult to locate an appropriate off-the-shelf IC and the set-up cost of designing a new IC may be prohibitive. Alternatively, discrete circuitry may be preferred over ICs in a given case.
Discrete circuits use individual resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, and other devices to achieve the circuit function. These individual or discrete parts must be interconnected. The usual approach is to use a circuit board. This method, however, increases the cost of the circuit. The board, assembly, soldering, and testing all make up a part of the cost. Components of discrete circuits are connected by wire of much greater length than the connections in an IC, and the speed of electricity is limited by the speed of light, so speeds required for modern computing are obtained through the use of ICs rather than discrete circuits.
Discrete circuits tend to be formed of bipolar transistors, mainly, both the NPN and PNP kind. The circuit will use the transistors as well as diodes, resistors and delays to reenact such actions as those performed by SR Latches, for example. Ultimately, discrete circuitry could be described as an alternative to the traditional computing, involving ICs. It differs greatly, in that it uses no programming languages, a system using discrete circuitry rather than ICs is less time consuming to build, tends to be physically larger in volume, and is much faster at loading data.
Although traditional computing is more popular, one cannot be said as superseding the other. And both, although designing and building is different, can both produce exactly the same computer system.
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