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Differences Between IC and PCB: Composition,Characteristics and Application Examples

Author: Apogeeweb
Date: 12 Oct 2018
ic and pcb difference


This paper will summarize the differences between the integrated circuit (hereinafter referred to as IC) and printed circuit board (hereinafter referred to as PCB) by first introducing the composition, characteristics and application examples of them. 



Ⅰ PCB Basics

1.1 Composition of PCB

1.2 Characteristics of PCB

1.3 Application Example of PCB

Ⅱ IC Basics

2.1 Composition of IC

2.2 Characteristics of IC

2.3 Application Example of IC

Ⅲ The Difference Between PCB and IC

Ⅳ Frequently Asked Questions about IC and PCB

Ⅰ PCB Basics

1.1 Composition of PCB

  • Wiring and Pattern: the wiring is a tool to conduct the components, and a large copper surface is additionally designed to ground and used as the power. The wiring and pattern are made at the same time.

  • Dielectric: commonly known as substrate, is used to maintain insulation between the wiring and layers.  

  • Through-hole / via: the wiring of more than two layers can be switched to each other, and the larger one is used as a part plug-in. Usually, electroless plated through holes (nPTH) are used as surface mounting positioning and fixing screws for assembly.  

  • Solder resistant /Solder Mask: not all copper surfaces have welded the parts by tin. Therefore, in areas without tin, a material (usually epoxying) is printed to avoid short circuits. According to different processes, it is divided into green oil, red oil and blue oil.

  • Legend / Marking/Silkscreen: not necessary. its main function is to mark the name and position frame of each part for easy maintenance and identification after assembly.

  • Surface Finish: copper surface in the general environment is easy to oxidize, leading to poor soldering, so it is necessary to make a copper surface protection. The methods of protection include HASL, ENIG, Immersion Silver, Immersion TIn, and OSP, which have their advantages and disadvantages, and all of them are generally called surface treatment.

PCB board 

1.2 Characteristics of PCB

  • High density. For decades, PCB high density has been developed with the development of integrated circuits and integrated mounting technology.

  • High reliability. Through a series of inspections, tests and aging tests, the PCB can be reliably operated for a long period of time (usually 20 years). 

  • Designability. For requirements based on the PCB performance (electrical, physical, chemical, mechanical, etc.), the PCB design is standardized with short time and high efficiency.

  • Productivity. Modern management ensures the consistency of product quality through standardization, scale and automation.

  • Testability. Establish complete testing methods and testing standards, and use various testing equipment and instruments to test and evaluate the eligibility and service life of PCB products.

  • Assemblability. PCB products can not only easily assemble various components in a standardized way, but also assemble various components into larger components, systems, and even complete machines.

  • Maintainability. Because PCB products and components are manufactured in a standardized design and scale, these components are also standardized. Therefore, once the system fails, it can be quickly replaced, and the system can be restored easily and flexibly. Of course, more examples can be given, such as system miniaturization, lighter weight, and faster signal transmission speed and so on.

1.3 Application Example of PCB

A Relatively Stable Solution for Dual-Output Flyback Circuit

Figure 1. A Relatively Stable Solution for Dual-Output Flyback Circuit

Dual-Output Flyback Circuit with relatively stable output

Figure 2. Dual-Output Flyback Circuit with Relatively Stable Output

This kind of circuit is generally used in low power supply. In order to ensure better cross-over adjustment of the two windings. We need to pay attention to the problems below. 


        ●In this example, if the double-sampling crossover adjustment rate is low, and even the problem of no-load and independent load cannot be dealt with, we generally solve the problem by setting the sampling feedback terminal to 5V. But this method is not suitable for applications where the two sets of voltages are far apart, because it will use one more transformer pin.


        ●The feedback optocoupler uses a 12v power supply, and the sampling point is better in front of the inductance of the post filter. Since the wave in front of the filter inductor can reflect the modulation state of the front-end PWM faster, even if the TL431 is turned on to a certain extent, the 12V wave can make the feedback current of the optical coupling slightly different. In the case of a feedback loop, the selection of the sampling point of the optical coupling power supply is more conducive to the balance control of dynamic response and adjustment rate.


        ●The 12v winding should be close to the main winding. This makes it difficult to control the 12V winding because the feedback sampling is 5V, which more effectively ensures that the voltage change rate of 12V is small.


        ●The template described the previous is basically within an error of an acceptable range of 5%. 


Ⅱ IC Basics

2.1 Composition of IC

An integrated circuit is a microelectronic device or component. The transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors, and inductors required in the circuit are connected to each other through a certain process, fabricated on a small semiconductor chip or dielectric substrate, and then packaged in a shell, and finally, become a microstructure with the functions required by the circuit. All components are structurally integrated into integrated circuits.

Integrated Circuit



2.2 Characteristics of IC  

  • Simple circuit. Because of the use of integrated circuits, the design, debugging and installation of the whole machine circuit are simplified, especially after the adoption of some special integrated circuits, the whole machine circuit appears more simple. 

  • Cost-effective. Compared with discrete electronic component circuits, the overall circuit performance of the integrated circuit is higher, and the cost and price are lower. The high gain and small zero drift of the integrated operational amplifier circuit are unmatched by discrete electronic components.  

  • High reliability. The integrated circuit has the advantage of high reliability, which improves the reliability of the whole circuit and improves the performance and consistency of the circuit. In addition, with an integrated circuit, the solder joint in the circuit is greatly reduced, and the possibility of virtual welding is decreased, which makes the whole circuit more reliable.  

  • Less energy consumption. Integrated circuits also have the advantages of small power consumption, small volume, low price and so on. Circuits with the same function consume much less power with integrated circuits than with discrete electronic components.

  • Low failure rate. The failure rate of the integrated circuit is lower than that of the discrete circuit, so the failure rate of the whole circuit is reduced.

In short, the integrated circuit has the advantages of small size, lightweight, less lead wire and welding joint, long life, high reliability, good performance, and low cost, which is convenient for mass production. When electronic equipment is assembled by an integrated circuit, its assembly density can be increased by tens to thousands of times than that of transistors, and the stable working time of the equipment can be greatly increased. 


2.3 Application Example of IC

• 555 Touch Timing Switch

IC1 is a 555 timing circuit, here connected to a monostable circuit. Usually, because there is no inductive voltage at the P end of the touch chip, the capacitor C1 completed the discharge through the 7th pin of 555, the output of the 3rd pin is low level, the relay KS is released, and the lamp is not on.  


When it is necessary to turn on the lamp, touch the metal sheet P with your hand. The triggered voltage of the human body induced clutter signal is increased from C2 to 555, so that the output of the 555 is changed from low to a high level, relay KS pulls in and the electric light illuminates. At the same time, 555 7th pin internal cutoffs, the power through R1 to charge C1, this is the start of the timing. 


When the voltage on the capacitor C1 rises to 2 / 3 of the supply voltage, the 555 7th pass causes C1 to discharge, and the output of the 3rd pin changes from high level to low, the relay releases, the light off, and the timing ends.


The timing is determined by R1 and C1:T1=1.1R1*C1. According to the figure, the timing time is about 4 minutes. D1 can choose 1N4148 or 1N4001.


Figure 3. 555 Timing Circuit

Ⅲ The Difference Between PCB and IC

An integrated circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit. The internal chip is very small and it is difficult to connect directly to the PCB, while the IC can be easily connected to the PCB. The motherboard inside the northbridge chip and the CPU is called IC, and its original name is also called an integrated block.


PCB is used in almost every electronic device. If there are electronic parts in a device, PCBs are mounted on PCB of all sizes. Besides fixing small parts, the main function of PCB is to connect each other.


IC is welded to PCB, where is the carrier of IC. In short, an integrated circuit is the integration of ordinary circuits on a chip, it is a whole. Once internally damaged, the chip will also be damaged. The purpose of PCB is to connect integrated circuits and discrete components to form a larger working circuit. The PCB itself can solder components, and when it is damaged, it can replace components. Before PCBs were used, components were connected together by wires, using a solution called "point-to-point" wiring. Compared with PCBs, this solution was messy and unreliable. For more in-depth information, you can visit the video below.

IC Board: How to Install an Integrated Circuit into a Circuit Board


Ⅳ Frequently Asked Questions about IC and PCB

1. What is an IC on a circuit board?

An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. ... ICs have two main advantages over discrete circuits: cost and performance.


2. Is a PCB a semiconductor?

PCB – The Printed Circuit Board is a non-conducting board or substrate that is used to connect electronic components, such as discrete semiconductors or ICs, or passive devices such as capacitors, inductors or resistors, via conducting copper tracks to make an electrical circuit.


3. How does IC work?

The integrated circuit uses a semiconductor material (read chips) as the working table and frequently silicon is selected for the task. Afterward, electrical components such as diodes, transistors and resistors, etc. are added to this chip in minimized form. ... The silicon is known as a wafer in this assembly.


4. Why are PCB green?

It is due to the solder mask, which protects the copper circuits printed on the fiber glass core to prevent short circuits, soldering errors, etc. ... The color of the solder mask gives the board its appearance.


5. How is PCB designed?

The PCB design process begins by converting a schematic diagram into a physical circuit board layout. Then it's time to put your problem solving skills to the test by placing components within a tightly constrained space.


6. Is IC 555 analog or digital?

This 555 timer based circuit is a kind of voltmeter, also an analog to digital converter, that converts the analog input voltage to digital output pulses. The output pulse width is proportional to the difference between the analog input voltage and the voltage across the 4.7 uF capacitor namely 2.5V.


7. How many IC are there?

600 types
There are roughly 600 types of standard logic ICs, from basic chips to highly functional arithmetic-and-logic units. There are two different types of implementation: TTL and CMOS. Transistor-transistor logic ICs: The main circuitry is built with bipolar transistors.


8. What is the main function of IC?

An integrated circuit, or IC, is small chip that can function as an amplifier, oscillator, timer, microprocessor, or even computer memory. An IC is a small wafer, usually made of silicon, that can hold anywhere from hundreds to millions of transistors, resistors, and capacitors.


9. How IC are programmed?

Modern ICs are typically programmed in circuit though a serial protocol (sometimes JTAG sometimes something manufacturer specific). ... Some (particularly FPGAs) even load the data serially from a separate flash or prom chip on every startup.


10. What material are PCB made of?

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are usually a flat laminated composite made from non-conductive substrate materials with layers of copper circuitry buried internally or on the external surfaces. They can be as simple as one or two layers of copper, or in high density applications they can have fifty layers or more.

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