Integrated Circuits vs Transistor: 8 Differences

Integrated Circuits vs Transistor

There are several golden plates or connectors on these Integrated Circuits that people often mix them up with transistors.

However, transistors are just another component of an Integrated Circuit, and there are thousands or even millions of them on a single IC chip, and therefore are quite different from it.

This article will let you know about those differences in order to clear confusions and make you more knowledgeable.


  • Integrated Circuits are small chips made from silicon usually.
  • There are hundreds to billions of tiny transistors in an Integrated Circuit.
  • As compared to the transistors, Integrated Circuit is a relatively newer technology.

Integrated Circuits vs Transistor – The 8 Differences

Integrated Circuits vs Transistor

1. Year of Creation

The patent for Integrated Circuits was awarded to Robert Noyce on April 25, 1961.

However, it was invented by Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby in 1958, which makes it a newer technology in comparison to the transistors.

On the other hand, the transistors were invented by John Pierce in Bell Labs on June 30, 1948.

Therefore, this is an older technology.

2. Meaning

The term Integrated Circuit, also referred to as ICs and chips, means just that – integrated.

That is, there are numerous microscopic components integrated onto a small silicon chip.

On the other hand, the term transistor was suggested by John Pierce, an engineer who wrote science fiction in his leisure, which combines the ideas of transistors, resistance, and the names of other gadgets such as thermistors.

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3. Classes

As for the Integrated Circuits, there are three major classes of it such as digital Integrated Circuits, analog Integrated Circuits, and hybrid Integrated Circuits that combine both analog and digital on a single chip.

On the other hand, as for the transistors, there are also three broad categories such as BJTs or Bipolar Junction Transistors or simply Bipolar Transistors, FETs or Field Effect Transistors, and IGBTs or Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors.

4. Basic Difference

The Integrated Circuits may contain up to billions of distinct transistors along with several other smaller components such as capacitors, resistors, and inductors that are prewired in order to create an electrical circuit to perform specific functions individually.

On the other hand, a transistor is just one single component, which cannot function separately. It is just a part of the Integrated Circuit.

5. Design Complexity

An Integrated Circuit is made up of silicon material and is built by using lithography to design the whole circuit and make it look like a small, compact chip.

All the components in it are microscopic in size so that they can be fitted onto a small chip.

This makes the design of the Integrated Circuits much more complex than the transistors.

On the other hand, doped silicon material is used to build a piece of monolithic transistor as well so that it can endure current flows.

However, the design of the transistors are not as complicated as that of the Integrated Circuits.

6. Functions

The different components of the Integrated Circuit perform different functions such as managing current flow, voltages, data and information transmission and more.

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On the other hand, any single transistor can function as an on/off switch or a current amplifier based on how the base terminal or the gate is driven in its design.

The Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors or MOSFETs, in particular, are used for power switching.

The transistors can also be used to increase the amount of current required to drive large audio speakers.

7. Reliability

The Integrated Circuits are more reliable than the transistors since they consume relatively less power and energy.

On the other hand, larger consumption of power and energy increases the chances of the transistors failing, thereby making them a bit less reliable.

8. The Cost Factor

The Integrated Circuits are more cost efficient to use than a transistor due to its design benefits.

It is less expensive to manufacture and the fact that it consumes less energy also adds to its cost efficiency.

On the other hand, the transistors are not as cheap as the Integrated Circuits to make and its higher power requirements make it less cost efficient.

Which is More Important – Integrated Circuits or Transistor?

Integrated Circuits vs Transistor

Clearly, it is the Integrated Circuit that is more important because the transistor is just a part of the chip.

With the use and importance of the Integrated Circuits growing every day, soon the manufacturers will incorporate not billions but trillions of smaller components in one single chip.

This will increase its functionality even more.

Transistors have different applications and can also be incorporated in analog electronics.

The transistors can strengthen signals in a linear method.

However, the Integrated Circuits are used for the same but it is more practical because it is more cost efficient and effective.

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Typically, it is the large number of varied components in an Integrated Circuit that makes it so usable in all those devices that need an electrical circuit to be created in order to operate.

In fact, you will find an Integrated Circuit being used in almost all types of electronic devices today such as:

  • In microwave ovens
  • In computers
  • In audio and video systems
  • In mobile phones
  • In watches
  • In cars and even
  • In traffic lights.

The extensive usability and application is simply due to the fact that an Integrated Circuit comes with lots of transistors in one conveniently designed and small chip.

This means that in place of one transistor, now a lot of transistors can be used more easily and conveniently.

Therefore, it can be said that transistors in isolation will lose their importance and use since more and more Integrated Circuits will come with more of these transistors in miniature forms integrated on one single chip.

It will make things quite easy for the electronics designers down the lane for sure.


Therefore, going through this article you know that the transistors and Integrated Circuits are two different things, where the former is just a part of the latter.

You also know which one among the two is more important in this world where almost everything is digital and done online.

About Taylor

AvatarTaylor S. Irwin is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience.

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