Discrete Parts

Discrete Devices are Disparate Components like Resistors, Diodes or Transistors. I'll Document Them Here as I Encounter Them in My Projects.

Discrete devices (parts, components, you name it) are electronic components that are disparate: you can’t break them up in smaller units. They are the basic ingredients for anything more complex, like a IC, a microprocessor, or a complete device.

Active and Passive

Passive discrete components always behave in the same way: resistors, capacitors, and coils are the most common representatives of this group.

Active discrete components in contrast can significantly change their behavior depending on their input signals. The most important active component obviously is the transistor, but diodes (and LEDs) are also member of this group. These components typically are based on semiconductors whereas passive components are not.

All of these definitions are somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes, even ICs (like OpAmps) and voltage regulators are called discrete and are added to the active components. Here, whenever I talk about discrete components I mean really basic electronic elements that can’t be subdivided. ICs and even more so voltage regulators are complex circuits consisting of a whole bunch of transistors, capacitors, resistors, and coils. It beats me why something like this should ever be called discrete.


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(content created Feb 27, 2024)