Are ASIC chips the equivalent of "State Machines" in computer science ? There are no "programs" or "instructions" that are executed. All the changes occure because of the inputs on the gates when the clock changes state. Everything happens because of transitions in logic blocks or gates as controlled by the input clock signal.

Are there ASICs that are not clock limited? They are just TTL/MOSFET logic that "run free"? Once the input changes, the ASIC chip free wheels until reaching a stable state.

Why ask? State machines taught in Computer science are implemented with logic gates. State diagrams help form the steps or actions of the state machine like a programming language controls defines the steps taken. Then a compiler turns teh program into machine instructions. I hoped a state machine once defined could then be turned into an ASIC. (Yes FPGA testing and a hundred other steps done as well)

ASICs look to be physical incarnation of the desired state machine written in the I.C. Problem to be solved: faster program execution. Should I use CUDA for massivly parallel execution, ASICs or build a state machine out of MOSFET parts. Quantum computing and a CRAY supercomputer is beyond my reach.

As dumb as my question is, I have tried to phrase it the best way I know. The goal? ASIC implimented AI. Yes ASICs can not be "re programmed", it seems AI could still be implemented -like a neural network. Why? Because our brains do not loose connections once formed. Our brains are very hard to re program but they do learn and self correct.

May you enjoy the chuckle. Sorry for wasting anyone's time. Thanks for any help (other than "run along and play on the highway at night)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh? It's like comparing potatoes with electric kettles. Both can be thrown down from the Pisa tower. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hate to say it but this must be the most spectacularly wide of the mark question the site has had... Sorry :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ You really should have done some research before asking that here. Now it appears like you made your own interpretation of what these words mean. Next time please do some research before asking because to those who do know your question is simply ridiculous. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ That was over the board 0_0 \$\endgroup\$
    – Mitu Raj
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bread vs. oven - same difference? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


This seems to be a bit of a misguided question. Nonetheless, I will attempt an answer.

In short, the two are not exactly comparable.

ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit. The name is more or less self explanatory. In general it's an integrated circuit, usually a piece of silicon with a number of transistors arranged in some way to perform a specific function. Part or all of that function could be a state machine. An ASIC could also be a processor or have a processor in it, which does execute program instructions from memory.

A state machine is more of a conceptual method of solving a problem. State machines can be both hardware based or software based. State machines always have a "state variable" which describes their current state. Depending on inputs, a state machine will move into different states in which the state machine's outputs will behave differently.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So state machines are a way to describe or define the steps, inputs, and outputs. ASICs are the way to make those steps happen and is just one of many ways to physically build a state machine. Thank you. I never read that ASICs could have a processor built into or with them. More to research. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. I'm not sure exactly the origin of the term ASIC. I think of it almost as synonymous with IC. After all, any IC is designed initially for a specific application. I don't usually hear anyone use the term to describe, for example, an off-the shelf chip from TI even those that are specific to a limited range of applications. In my line of work, we often use the term to simply to imply that a chip is not an FPGA. \$\endgroup\$
    – kjgregory
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 15:24

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