The goal of this graduate course is to design an integrated circuit (IC) that will subsequently fabricated in an industrial fab. The prototype chips are then tested by the students.
The key focus is to go through to the complete design cycle from concept, to circuit design, layout, and verification, to testing and demonstration of the fabricated IC. The primary goal is to conceive and design ICs that have the highest possible probability of success given the available time.
The final outcome of the course needs to be the custom IC mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB) that demonstrates the ICs functionality in its application context.
The PCB needs to be able to provide a portable, standalone demonstration of the integrated circuit. E.g., it will typically be battery powered, have the necessary input (sensors, buttons, ...) and output (display, LEDs, speaker, ...) to demonstrate the operation of the IC.
Students work in groups of typically 2 (or possibly up to 4) to complete their design.
- EE4312 Analog Electronic Circuits, or equivalent.
- EECS4321 VLSI Circuits, or equivalent.
This 6000-level course is open to undergraduates with the necessary preparation who obtain registration permission from the instructor and their advisor.
TechnologyWe plan to use a 65nm CMOS foundry process for the design and fabrication. This is still subject to change. Students will be required to sign an NDA in order to get access to the technology foundry kit.
IC Design Project Examples
There will be a number of IC designs project templates available for the students to follow. The students are however strongly encouraged to develop their own IC design projects which will be checked for feasibility by the instructor and teaching staff. The projects need to support the course goals outlined above and described in more detail below.
The focus of the course is on custom analog and digital IC design (i.e. circuits which are developed at the transistor level from schematic design, through spice-type simulations, into layout). Whereas the designkit can support digital synthesis, we can only offer this option in specific circumstances. If students are interested proposing projects that require digital synthesis, they need to contact the instructor first.
How to Develop your Own IC Design Project Proposal
Remember that the key goal of this lab course is for students to experience the complete design cycle, from IC functional definition to experimental demonstration. A second equally important goal is to design ICs that can be demonstrated in its application context on a stand-alone PCB which contains the necessary support circuitry to provide the inputs to the IC and display the outputs from the IC.
We have a number of template projects (Class-D audio amplifier, PPG heart-rate monitor, digital clock, ...) and are evaluating a number of new project ideas. Check out the 2016 course page, the 2015 course page, or the 2014 course page for videos and descriptions of the projects and fabricated chips in prior years.
Students are strongly encouraged to propose their own project ideas which will then be reviewed for feasibility. The design complexity of the project needs to be manageable for a team of typically two (or up to four) students for an effective project design duration of about 12 weeks.
The design, layout, post-layout verification and tape-out (i.e. sending the design to the fabrication facility) of the IC will be done in the Spring semester. The IC prototypes will be manufactured in the summer and will be available for testing in the Fall semester.
The major steps in the IC design are:
|IC functionality definition||Project selection and approval||Spring|
|IC system level design, building block definitions, packaging specifications, and preliminary test plan||System and block level review||Spring|
|IC schematic design and transistor level simulations||Design review of schematic and transistor level simulations||Spring|
|IC layout and post-layout verification (DRC, LVS, PEX)||Design review of layout and PEX results||Spring|
|Submission of tape-out checklist + IC tape-out to MOSIS||Tape-out approval||Spring|
|Design of test and demonstration PCB||Design review of PCB and test plan||Spring|
|IC & PCB Fabrication (external vendors)||Summer|
|PCB assembly and IC test and debug||Review of test results||Fall|
|Submission of IC test report to MOSIS||Fall|
After the Spring semester, non-graduating students will receive a "CP" (credit pending) grade. After submission of the demonstration video, the design description and the test report in webpage format the final grade will be assigned.
The grading of the course will be based on your design reviews, chip design submission, pcb design submission and the final testing and demonstration of your chip.
Note for students planning to graduate in SpringTesting your chip is an integral part of the course experience. If you plan to graduate at the end of the Spring semester, you need to make arrangements with the instructor for the testing of your chip and the generation of the test report. In most cases, you will be asked to team up with students who are not graduating in Spring.
Industrial SponsorNew in 2022 is that the class will be sponsored by industry. The fabrication and the packaging of the chips is sponsored by Apple Inc.
Design Reviews and Mentoring
IC design engineers from the sponsor will participate in design reviews and will mentor students on their design.
The sponsor is offering prizes to the three best designs in the
class. The selection of the prize winners is done by the sponsor.