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I'm currently sorting my electronics, but I'm not sure if a voltage regulator is an IC. I can't seem to find any information and I am struggling to understand whether certain components are ICs or not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Anything with more than one transistor on a single die is an IC. That means almost everything that does a more complex job than just amplifying or switching. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might even be more than one IC, depending on how you implement it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ If an actual semiconductor regulator and not just a single building block like a zener diode, then yes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 17:45

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I am not going into the discussion at what point a circuit is complex enough to be called an integrated circuit.

I can imagine that a voltage regulator looks so simple (just three wires) that it is difficult to see why it would be called an IC. Not much different from transistor: it has about the same size and same number of connections!
So I looked on the WWW a for diagram of what is inside an LM317 and a 7805. Two very common voltage regulators. This gives a better notion of the complexity of those circuits.

LM317: LM317

7805: LM7805

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'Integrated circuit' means just that: a circuit, integrated onto one piece of silicon.

An electronic circuit is an arrangement of connected components that perform a useful function or task.

Here, integration means to combine things into a single useful thing.

Hopefully this will show you the clear distinction between a single silicon component and an integrated circuit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I could object to calling it a clear distinction--what about Darlington transistors? IGBTs? do they count as integrated circuits? Most people would consider them both discrete components, I think. The line is a bit blurrier than you might think! \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Felthry Actually, I find this definition pretty accurate. Darlingtons/IGBTs are not "circuits". So indeed, they are not included in this definition and must be considered discrete. Same for dual independant transistors in a single package. Of course, there is always a blurry line (what about a simple array of 8 transistors with just their emitters connected?), but there will always be particular cases for which people could argue endlessly. Still, it answers the question very clearly. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 18:26

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