February 2, 2009
A team of three ECE graduate students have placed third in the second and final phase of the 2007-2008 SRC/SIA IC Design Challenge. Abhishek Jajoo, John Reinke and Leon Wang also won third place in Phase One of the Challenge judged in March. Their contest entry integrates their Ph.D. research in RF MEMS devices and circuits into an implementable design for "A Tunable Multiband RF MEMS Transceiver Front-End." ECE professors Tamal Mukherjee and Gary Fedder are the faculty advisors to the team.
Sponsored by the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the theme of this year's challenge is "Performance at the Limits." Eight teams out of a total of 47 that entered the contest were invited to participate in Phase Two.
Phase Two teams finalized their designs in May and submitted them to Jazz Semiconductor for fabrication. The fabricated devices were returned to the teams in September after which they tested/characterized their circuits and submitted a final report for judging.
The effort, which began with a submission of design description in November 2007, will culminate with the awarding of a $10K prize during the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 9 in San Francisco. Abhishek Jajoo will represent the team.
According to the SRC, the key objective of the IC Design Challenge is for university teams to create novel, high performance circuit designs that make end products more competitive. These products can be digital, analog, mixed-signal or wireless. Using the provided technology and design kit, successful contest teams will design circuits that clearly demonstrate potential for high performance for a target application offering advantages over existing designs.
A secondary objective is to assist faculty in stimulating greater interest in IC design careers among students, both graduate and undergraduate, and from diverse populations.
ECE students have entered three of the four SRC/SIA design contests held in the past decade. At least one of the ECE entries to each of the contests was given the opportunity to fabricate their designs for free in a state-of-the-art IC fabrication process. This is a testament to the long history of VLSI design within the ECE Department, beginning with the SRC-CMU Research Center for Computer-Aided Design founded in 1982.