The Technion’s VLSI Systems Research Center was established in 1984 to support research in VLSI systems, and to enhance engineering education in the field of VLSI design and thus increase the number of graduates with experience in this area for the growing microelectronics industry of the country. The center is the principal source of new VLSI engineers in Israel.
The VLSI Systems Research Center is involved in a wide range research, postgraduate and undergraduate activities.
The VLSI research center is engaged in many directions of research. These include :
- Advanced Processor Architectures
- Electronic design automation; device, circuit and system modeling
- Circuits and architectures with emerging memory technologies and design of energy efficient architectures
- mm-Wave and 60GHz circuit and applications in advanced CMOS processes
- Formal Verification
One of the main purposes of the VLSI laboratory is to provide facilities (hardware and software) to enable students to perform a wide variety of hardware design and software projects in the field of VLSI.
Hardware Design Projects
Typically, hardware projects include the design and implementation of a VLSI chip from architecture to layout. The course allows students to learn and perform all stages of the VLSI design flow for digital and analog VLSI design using the industry’s leading CAD tools. Such projects involve about 350 hours of work per semester and are performed by students in the third or fourth year of their studies.
Software Design Projects
Software projects typically involve the development of new CAD tools, or GUIs for existing tools or evaluating and improving various algorithms for future implementation. The projects are usually implemented in C++ or JAVA. Such projects involve about 250 hours of work per semester and are performed by students in the third or fourth year of their studies.
In addition, VLSI laboratory’s undergraduate education includes providing the hardware/software and CAD support for student assignments for the following courses:
Introduction to VLSI Design
Technology of MOS integrated circuits. Layout and design rules for MOS circuits. Principles of VLSI design. Two phase clocking. Layout of random logic. Structured layout, PLAs, computer aided design for VLSI, simulation, automatic layout. MOS memories, technology of bipolar integrated circuits, A/D and D/A converters. Trends in VLSI engineering, custom VLSI, gate arrays.
Advanced Circuits and Architectures with Memristors
The course deals with the influence of novel technologies on systems and architectures. The course covers different topics related to memristors including device physics, theory and modeling. Memristive non-volatile memory is covered, including circuit design and coding theory. Also covered is the use of memristors for different applications such as logic and analog circuits, security, and neuromorphic computing. The implications of these applications on computer architectures are discussed, including implications of the technology on different systems. In addition, the students will gain an understanding the behavior of memristors and practical developing skills for device models, practical knowledge in circuit design with memristors and an understanding state-of-the-art research related to memristors.
RF CMOS Integrated Circuits
Passive components. MOS devices in RF. Transmission lines. Smith charts. S-Parameters. Design of power gain networks. Stability. RF CMOS amplifier design. Broadband and tuned amplifiers. Noise sources. Low noise amplifiers. Non-linearities and distortion. Mixer fundamentals. Passive and active mixers.
Mixed Signal Electronic Circuits
Analog to digital converters and digital to analog conversion. Structures and design of high speed DACs and ADCs. Nyquist rate and oversampling architectures (i.e. sigma delta modulators), flash, SAR, Pipeline and interleaved ADCs. The design of comparators circuit analysis including higher order silicon integration effects (i.e. noise, offsets and mismatches).
CAD of VLSI Systems
As system complexity grows, VLSI designers are faced with problems related to validating correctness, reducing design effort and optimizing speed, area, power and other parameters. Solutions and principles in terms of design methodologies, design automation algorithms and tool capabilities. Electronic design automation (EDA) field for a complete perspective, While emphasizing detail depth in logic design topics. Students will be exposed to the discipline of electronic design automation, using an analytical approach based on graph-theory and optimization principles. After completing the course, students will be able to describe the flow of VLSI digital logic design and the algorithms used in various types of design automation tools, understand design representation, practice algorithms/heuristics and data structures and to develop the ability to read professional literature.
Experiments in the VLSI Lab
The lab offers students five 8-hr experiments in the areas of high level HDL design, standard cell design, analog design, architectures and synthesis of VLSI circuits and verification of VLSI designs.
The purpose of these experiments is to introduce students to the various fields of VLSI design. This gives them a better understanding of the problems faced and the tools used at different stages of VLSI design. These experiments help the students select a project closer to their field of interest in later stages of their studies.