Project aims to put Scotland at forefront of analogue and digital circuit design
Issued: Sun, 12 Jun 2011 10:00:00 BST
[June 2011]. Engineers at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have secured £470,000 funding for a demand-led knowledge exchange project to improve the competitiveness of the Scottish electronic design industry.
The money has been awarded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to a partnership between the two universities and 14 industry collaborators including Wolfson Microelectronics, Gold Standard Simulations, IBM and Selex.
The ‘Statistical Design and Verification of Analogue Systems’ (StatDes) project aims to improve the design of electronic and electrical systems, and will specifically look at the problem of statistical variability – the unpredictable performance of very small transistors.
The project will transfer knowledge gained in the NanoCMOS project – an initiative funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council which tackled variability in digital systems – to electronics design companies in Scotland.
The ever-increasing performance of silicon chips is largely due to increasing miniaturisation of transistors, the building blocks of electronic circuits. However, as transistors become smaller, tiny variations and flaws in their structure have an ever-greater effect on their performance.
Engineers at Wolfson Microelectronics and IBM will work with the StatDes academic team to develop tools for analysing analogue systems – such as transmitter and receiver circuits and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) circuits using advanced simulation technology and tools provided by Gold Standard Simulations Ltd (GSS).
GSS is a spin-out company from the University of Glasgow providing commercial access to statistical simulation tools encapsulating more of 150 man-years’ of research and development by the University’s world-leading device modelling Group. The company won the 2010 MNI Research and Development Award.
Professor Asen Asenov, James Watt Chair in Electrical Engineering in the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: “While many people may think of electronic devices as being inherently digital, the real world remains a stubbornly analogue place.
“Analogue systems are extremely sensitive to variability and we must tackle this issue for the electronic systems of the future.
“This project brings together industry and academics to tackle the issue and to give Scotland an edge in developing tools for the design of next generation of electronic circuits and systems.”
The first phase of the project will bring the benefit from the knowledge gained by the Glasgow and Edinburgh university researchers to Wolfson Microelectronics and Gold Standard Simulations, while later phases will see information being disseminated to other electronics manufacturers, including Freescale, Elonics, Inside, Ateeda and Dukosi.
At the end of the project, the partners hopes an industry-focused research centre can be established to sustain the partnership in the future.
Derek Boyd, Chief Executive of the National Microelectronics Institute and Chair of the StatDes Steering Group, said: “Accurate simulation, modelling and verification is more critical than ever. With ever increasing costs of production, the need for rapid new product introduction to hit market windows and where the costs of getting things wrong can wipe-out profits, there is no margin for error.
“In Scotland, we’re fortunate to have Professor Asen Asenov, one of the world’s leading researcher’s in this area, and I’m delighted to be working with him on this project and honoured to Chair the Advisory Group.
“I will be doing my utmost to broaden and strengthen industrial engagement in order to further the aims of the project by producing real and tangible benefits for the organisations engaged.”
Scott Wilson, Technology Programmes Manager at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This collaboration presents an excellent opportunity for the Scottish electronics sector to lead the world in developing the next generation of electronics designs which will power the technology of the future.
“It also an example of how industry and academia should, and can, work together for mutual benefit.”
For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email firstname.lastname@example.org