Background Knowledge: Integrated Circuits and Logic Design
Integrated circuits (ICs) are usually called “chips.” They implement very small electronic circuits on a silicon substrate. CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs are all ICs. Most ICs implement logic design. Electrical signals enter an IC and are interpreted as a “0” or as a “1” based on their voltage level. You can look at different signals to gather many values, or you can look at the same signal many different times and see how it changes.
Logic design is designing circuitry to make decisions based on those “0” and “1” values. A logic design is made up of logical gates to compare two or more different values – to answer questions like: “Are both values the same?” or “Are both values equal to 1?” In addition, structures called “flipflops” space out these questions in time. Modern logical designs have thousands to trillions of logical gates.
A good analogy is when you hear piano music. Each count of time, the musician determines what note you will hear. Each decision is simple, but a beautiful song requires many decisions and much skill. A series of good logic designs in an IC can produce amazing computational answers!