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Definition: discrete component

An elementary electronic device constructed as a single unit. Before the advent of integrated circuits (chips), all transistors, resistors, capacitors and diodes were discrete. Discrete components are widely used in amplifiers and other electronic products that use large amounts of current. On a circuit board, they are intermingled with the chips, and there is hardly any electronic product that does not have at least one or two discrete resistors or capacitors. See also discrete manufacturing.

Discrete and Integrated
Discrete devices and integrated circuits (chips) are used togther in almost every electronic product.

Placing the Devices
This shows discrete components being placed onto a printed circuit board. The next step is adhering them to the board by soldering. (Image courtesy of Honeywell, Inc.)