What Is A Gate Array?

What is a Gate Array?

What is a Gate Array? An Expert’s Guide

Have you ever come across the term “gate array” in the world of electronic design, but aren’t sure what it means? Look no further! In this blog post, we will demystify the concept of gate arrays and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what they are and how they work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gate Arrays are semiconductors that can be customized to perform specific functions.
  • They offer flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and shorter development cycles compared to custom-designed integrated circuits.

Defining Gate Arrays

A Gate Array, also known as an “Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) Gate Array,” is a type of integrated circuit (IC) that can be customized or configured by a designer to perform specific functions based on their requirements. Gate arrays are pre-fabricated silicon chips with millions of transistors and numerous gates, ready for customization.

Gate arrays serve as a middle ground between two other types of integrated circuits: the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and the fully-custom integrated circuit. While FPGAs offer high flexibility but higher power consumption, gate arrays strike a balance between flexibility and cost.

How Do Gate Arrays Work?

Gate arrays consist of a grid of unconnected transistors and logic gates. The customizability of gate arrays lies in their unconnected transistors, which can be interconnected to create the desired logic circuits. These unconnected transistors form a blank canvas for designers to configure and create their desired circuit.

Designers start by using a computer-aided design (CAD) tool to specify the interconnections between the transistors to achieve the desired functionality. Once the customization is complete, the gate array is sent for manufacturing, where the interconnections are created by metal layers.

Benefits of Gate Arrays

  1. Flexibility: Gate arrays allow designers to choose the specific functions and circuitry they require, providing the flexibility to create a custom design without the drawbacks of a fully custom integrated circuit.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: Compared to fully custom integrated circuits, gate arrays are more cost-effective due to their pre-fabricated nature. This pre-fabrication saves both time and money as it eliminates the need for starting the manufacturing process from scratch.
  3. Shorter Development Cycles: Gate arrays offer a quicker time-to-market as designers can focus on customizing and configuring the logic instead of designing the underlying transistors and basic circuitry.


Gate arrays are a versatile and cost-effective solution for electronics designers looking to create custom integrated circuits without the time and expense of a fully custom design. Their flexibility allows designers to harness the power of customization and achieve the desired functionality while reducing development cycles. So, next time you come across the term “gate array,” you’ll know precisely what it means and the benefits it brings to the world of electronic design.