Cadence Academic Network Contributors
The Microelectronics Students’ Group (uSG) is an initiative carried by students from the Master degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at FEUP. The main goals of this group is to stimulate the interest of ECE students in the areas of semiconductor design technology throughout a well-structured working environment as extra-curricular activity. The group activities include not only, but mainly, the design of Radio-Frequency (RF) and mixed-signal CMOS circuits, from the early phase of schematic, covering all the typical design flow up to the layout and manufacturing.
Currently, the group has more than twenty students at different stages of their studies working together in a variety of integrated-circuit (IC) design projects. Besides the true team environment in the IC design activities, other initiatives of this student group are focused on workshops in which the initial design steps and tools usage are presented to younger members (and even to college students), development of projects in information technology, promotion of several topics for discussion through seminars. Some of these initiatives are summarized in this webpage.
The uSG is proud to contribute in the Cadence Academic Network. Since its beginning, the students’ group has been using Cadence tools for education purposes and throughout all the design phases of IC designs, frequently trying to achieve the best usage from deep understanding of each CAD tool.
“Joining the Cadence Academic Network is very important for our Microelectronics Students’ Group, both for the support we get and for the incentive it means to promote state-of-art knowledge and activity.” Prof. Pedro Guedes de Oliveira, Head of the department of ECE.
At FEUP, IC design tools are introduced at an advanced phase of the present Masters Programme in ECE, right following the two courses on fundamental electronics (Electronics I and Electronics II). There are several majors in which IC tools are used for education purposes in different courses. Among the major of Telecommunications, Electronics and Computers, the ECE Programme offers the following courses:
- Electronics III – In this course the students are introduced to the design and simulation of analog circuits by using CAD tools covering the typical analog IC design flow.
- VLSI Circuit Design – Provides the students with basic knowledge about the technological aspects of digital CMOS integrated circuits and the corresponding design techniques, so that they are able to specify, design and implement CMOS ICs.
- Digital Systems Design – This course aims to endow students with technological knowledge and methodologies to design complex digital systems, in order to develop microelectronic technologies and reconfigurable digital systems.
- RF and microwave engineering – The course covers the fundamentals of electronic design in RF and microwave telecommunications with a practical perspective through the realization of laboratory electronic projects.
- Design of Integrated Circuits for Communications – This course aims to complement students’ training in analogue electronics in cable or wireless communication systems.
In the uSG, in its relatively short existence, the student members have already achieved some awards, some of which:
- “Fastest Full Custom Layout Designer of the Year,” in 2nd EMEA Student Design Contest, May 2009.
- “TSMC Design Contest in 90nm LP MS/RF,” by Europractice, Oct 2009.
The uSG has been focused on RF and mixed-signal designs, particularly in wireless communication ICs (see IEEE R8 News Dec. 2009 for a brief reference on our work). There have been also several MsC Thesis that started and were successfully developed within the uSG activities. For example, some CMOS designs developed by MsC students at early stages of their studies are: RF frequency synthesizers, parametric polyphase filters, switched-mode RF power amplifiers, adaptive SC filters, Delta-Sigma converters, RF front-ends, etc.
More references to these and other works can be found here. All the figures shown along this webpage are screenshots taken from students’ designs developed in projects funded by the University of Porto that have been sent for manufacturing. We are absolutely convinced that this type of work covering all design stages when developed as a team brings a great value in education of our future IC engineers.
Workshops and Seminars
There two main concerns frequently addressed in the activities promoted by the uSG. One is the necessary training required to include new members in the group. During the year, some workshops are promoted focusing the basic steps on IC design and tools usage. Some information is published in tutorials. Some examples can be found here.
The other concern is interaction with semiconductor industry. Along the year several seminars are proposed together with experienced people from industry covering a wide range of topics, e.g. power management, data conversion, circuit synthesis, or even topics related with entrepreneurship or business models. An interesting list of seminars can be found here.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering – University of Porto
Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, s/n 4200-465 Porto
office phone: +351 22 508 1477, +351 22 5574199 (ext:3230)
e-mail: candidoduarte [at] fe.up.pt, cduarte [at] usgroup.eu