Introduction to VLSI Design

Amit Kumar Mishra ECE Department IIT Guwahati

Tale of two queries!
Y R U here?  Y M I here? 

Moore¶s axiom  Some more funda  Free CAD tool  Parting notes 

Moore¶s Law
Gordon Moore: co-founder of Intel  Predicted that the number of transistors per chip would grow exponentially (double every 18 months)  Exponential improvement in technology is a natural trend: 

e.g. Steam Engines - Dynamo - Automobile


Moore¶s Law
10M 1M 100K 10K 1K 100 10 1 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995
[©Keutzer] 4004 8086 80386 68020 68000 PPC603 Pentium 80486 Pentium Pro PPC601 MIPS R4000 68040


10x/6 years

IC Products 

CPU, DSP, Controllers

Memory chips

Mobile communication, audio/video processing 


Embedded systems
Used in cars, factories Network cards 

System-on-chip (SoC)

IC Product Market Shares

Source: Electronic Business

Example: Intel Processor Sizes
Silicon Process Technology Intel386TM DX Processor Intel486TM DX Processor 1.5Q 1.0Q 0.8Q 0.6Q 0.35Q 0.25Q

Pentium® Processor

Pentium® Pro & Pentium® II Processors

Heterogeneity on Chip 

Greater diversity of on-chip elements
Processors Software Memory Analog


More transistors doing different things!


Stronger Market Pressures
Decreasing design window  Less tolerance for design revisions 

Exponentially more complex, greater design risk, greater variety, and a smaller design window!


VLSI Design Styles
Full Custom  Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC)  Programmable Logic (PLD, FPGA)  System-on-a-Chip 

Full Custom Design 


Each circuit element carefully ³handcrafted´ Huge design effort High Design & NRE Costs / Low Unit Cost High Performance Typically used for high-volume applications



Constrained design using pre-designed (and sometimes pre-manufactured) components Also called semi-custom design CAD tools greatly reduce design effort Low Design Cost / High NRE Cost / Med. Unit Cost Medium Performance

Programmable Logic (FPGA) 


Pre-manufactured components with programmable interconnect CAD tools greatly reduce design effort Low Design Cost / Low NRE Cost / High Unit Cost Lower Performance

System-on-chip (SOC)
Idea: combine several large blocks
Predesigned custom cores (e.g., microcontroller) ³intellectual property´ (IP) ASIC logic for special-purpose hardware Programmable Logic (PLD, FPGA) Analog  

Open issues
Keeping design cost low Verifying correctness of design

The Inverted Pyramid
Electronic Systems > $1 Trillion

Semiconductor > $220 B

CAD $3 B


Where is the money? 

Gaps to be filled:
System-semiconductor gap Semiconductor-CAD gap

A free CAD flow for all who care!
Alliance CAD tools  "Architecture des Systèmes intégrés et Micro électronique" department of LIP6  875 000 Transistor design done  Limit is your processor power and your design abilities! 

Scenario in India???
HUGE outsourcing  Loads of startups (WHY?)  VLSI design is nowhere a single nation job  Fabrication labs (fabs) in USA getting sold out  India getting 4 fabs by next year! 

Thank You
Best of Luck for End-Sems and Internships

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