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1.7 Summary

Integrated circuit manufacturing is a key technology—it makes possible a host of important, useful new devices. ICs help us make better digital systems because they are small, stingy with power, and cheap. However, the temptation to build ever more complex systems by cramming more functions onto chips leads to an enormous design problem. Integrated circuits are so complex that the only way to effectively design them is to use computers to automate parts of the design process, a situation not unlike that in Isaac Asimov’s robot stories, where positronic brains are employed to design the next, more advanced generation of robot brains. But humans are not out of control of the design process—by giving up control of some details, you can obtain a clearer view of the broad horizon and avoid problems that don’t lie exactly at your feet.

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