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Adding Analog And Mixed Signal Concerns To A Digital Vlsi Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering Poster

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.149.1 - 7.149.8



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Paper Authors

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John Nestor

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David Rich

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session Number 1532

Adding Analog and Mixed Signal Concerns to a Digital VLSI Course

John A. Nestor and David A. Rich Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Lafayette College


This paper describes a new approach to teaching a VLSI Systems Design course that integrates basic analog and mixed-signal design considerations into what was previously an all-digital course. VLSI chips increasingly contain both analog and digital components, making it important for students to have some familiarity with both topics. The revised course integrates analog concerns by building on the standard techniques for digital integrated circuit design and extending this coverage to include digital-analog and analog- digital conversion. Students design these elements in the course laboratory, producing a complete chip that is submitted for fabrication at the end of the semester. The resulting experience gives students a strong grounding in digital integrated circuit design, an understanding of some important analog concepts, and an appreciation for the relationship between digital design and analog design.

1. Introduction

Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) is the enabling technology for an ongoing revolution in computers, communications, and electronics. The importance of this key technology makes a VLSI Design course an essential ingredient in a competitive Electrical and Computer Engineering curriculum. Traditional VLSI Design courses focus primarily on digital integrated circuit design. Analog integrated circuit design is usually covered in a separate course, often at the graduate level. The problem with this approach is that the day of the purely digital chip is passing – most new chip designs include both analog and digital components. For example, it is now common for digital chips to integrate digital- analog (D/A) and analog-digital (A/D) converters to interface with the analog “outside world”. Moreover, large “mixed signal” communications and consumer electronics “system on a chip” designs combine large blocks of both digital and analog circuits. Finally, shrinking transistor geometries require that digital chip designers consider circuit- level issues which were formerly only of concern in analog chips.

This paper describes an effort to meet this challenge by augmenting a digital VLSI course with analog and mixed-signal concerns. Since the two topics share a common foundation (e.g., layout processing, device physics, parasitics, etc.), our approach has been to include small “digressions” into analog design at different points during the course, along with laboratory experiences which reinforce both digital and analog design concepts. The result is a course in which students gain an appreciation of analog concerns as well as a broad- based grounding in digital integrated circuit design.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Nestor, J., & Rich, D. (2002, June), Adding Analog And Mixed Signal Concerns To A Digital Vlsi Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10345

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