Isolinear chips, known more specifically as isolinear optical chips or isolinear processing chips, and known more informally as optical chips, control chips, or memory chips were an advanced form of computer chip, utilized as an information storage device or for the operational control of various forms of computer technologies. (TNG: "Booby Trap") They could be read with optical chip readers. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
They eventually replaced the less efficient duotronic enhancers about forty years prior to 2369. (TNG: "Relics") After which time, they were used to enable warp drive in Galaxy-class vessels, store memory in Starfleet PADDs, and were a primary component of Danube-class runabout computers. (TNG: "The Naked Now", "A Fistful of Datas", DS9: "The Jem'Hadar") Isolinear chips were also capable of storing television programs. VOY: "Memorial")
In 2378, following Operation Watson when Voyager could have short periods of live contact with Earth every day, Neelix put 146 sequentially numbered isolinear chips in his hat for the crew to pull – to see in which order they would be able to contact their friends and family. (VOY: "Author, Author")
|bank • buffer circuit • chip • chip junction • circuitry • controller • core • co-processor • emitter • frequency • interface • processor • rod • spanner • storage assembly • subprocessor • tag|
According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, isolinear chips featured onboard nanotech processors to aid in memory access and had a maximum capacity of 2.15 kiloquads. Though normally easily corrupted, chips could be coated with a layer of clear plastic for protection in environments more hostile than a computer core without affecting read and write capabilities; these strengthened chips were commonly used in tricorders, PADDs, and other handheld devices with isolinear chip drives, and could be handled without using special gloves.
In the first draft script of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "When It Rains...", Chief Miles O'Brien remotely analyzed, from Deep Space 9's infirmary, a particular set of isolinear chips in Starfleet Medical's main computer. This specific group of isolinear chips held the results of a series of scans that Odo had been subjected to while on Earth (in the timeframe of "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost"). As O'Brien began to conduct his analysis on these isolinear chips, he told Doctor Julian Bashir that, if someone had tampered with them, a trace resonance signature would be evident.