An integrated circuit (IC), also known as chip or a microchip is a layout of electronic circuits built over a small plate made of semiconductor material. ICs are very compact and can have up to several hundreds of transistors and other components embedded on a semiconductor plate of very small size. ICs were made possible by various experiments showing that semiconductor devices can perform the functions of vacuum tubes. The mass production and reliability of ICs ensured the rapid adoption of standard integrated circuits in place of circuits using discrete transistors.
ICs can store data of over 64 GB on a single chip of size comparable to a fingernail. There are primarily two types of ICs for memory storage viz. volatile and non-volatile memory. Volatile memories are memories such as random access memories (RAM) which can retain data stored on them as long as power supply is provided. Non-volatile memories are read-only memories (ROM) which have data stored on them irrespective of power supply.
The memory ICs find applications in memory based electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, tablets, medical devices, smart cards, digital cameras, communication equipments and other digital electronic devices. Memory ICs are predominantly used in smart-phones, media players, and USB drives. With growing adoption and enhancements in smart-phones, there is a rising demand for sophisticated memory ICs in recent years. This demand is expected to grow at a high rate owing to the ongoing development in the smartphone devices. Another application contributing to the demand of memory ICs is tablet computers. The demand for memory ICs is expected to rise with growing adoption of tablet PCs.
In addition, increasing use of digital cameras and camcorders worldwide too contributes to the demand for memory ICs. Memory ICs are also used in smart cards such as driving license, e-passport and other identification cards. Installation of memory ICs makes it convenient to maintain records of the card holder leading to growing adoption of these cards. Automotive and medical sectors are the emerging application areas of the memory ICs. Memory ICs are used to maintain the records of patients in medical equipment such as electrocardiographs, diagnostic imaging apparatus, medical PCs, blood analysis devices and other electronic medical recording systems.
Geographically, Asia-Pacific has shown the fastest growth in memory ICs market due to the growing population and consumption of consumer electronics in this region. Asia-Pacific accounts for over a quarter of the global memory ICs market. In addition, rising number of suppliers of semiconductor material required for manufacturing of ICs is boosting the production of memory ICs. North America follows Asia-Pacific with growing development in medical and automobile sector along with the consumer electronics.
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In North America, Agilent Technologies, CyOptics, Enablence Technologies, Ciena, Emcore Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Finisar Corporation, Infinera Corporation, JDS Uniphase, Kaiam Corporation, Intel Corporation, Kotura Inc, Luxtera, Oclaro Inc., Neophotonics Corporation, Onechip Photonics among others are the providers of memory ICs. In Europe, Aifotec AG and Alcatel Lucent are leading manufacturers of memory chip ICs. In Asia-Pacific, Avago Technologies is among the leading manufacturers of memory ICs.