The infamous LSI

Often, an English word will be adopted into the Japanese language, and then take on a life of its own. It comes to be used outside the original English meaning, but clients are resistant to using a different English word in the translation ("It's already English, you don't need to translate it."). One example is the term "LSI".

An LSI ("large scale integration") is a kind of integrated circuit. This technology dates back to the 1970s, and is now obsolete. Unfortunately, this term has stuck in Japanese engineering circles, and Japanese chip makers still call their chips "LSIs," and their systems on a chip (SoCs) "システムLSI" (system LSI). In English, meanwhile, they're called integrated circuits (ICs) or just "chips."

Although some English-speaking engineers (mostly those working at Japanese-owned companies) use the term "LSI" in the Japanese sense, it's still the wrong term, and companies that insist on using it in their English documents end up with translations that are odd at best.

1 comment to The infamous LSI

  • “OEM (original equipment manufacturer)” is a fairly common term in Japan. It’s usually means one that produces an original product based on a brand or character for someone.

    It’s much more specialized in English. Here’s the Webster definition: one that produces complex equipment (as a computer system) from components usually bought from other manufacturers.

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