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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 for low-volume production, 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.
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.
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