5 Reasons Why VLSI Design is Taking Over the World
5 Reasons Why VLSI Design is Taking Over the World VLSI design, which stands for very large scale integration, is the process of designing and manufacturing an integrated circuit at a very small scale. In comparison to previous technology generations (such as microprocessor or computer memory), VLSI circuits pack thousands of transistors into tiny spaces on silicon wafers just 1 millimeter in diameter, resulting in reduced power consumption, faster speeds, and lower costs. The following are five reasons why VLSI design may take over the world very soon…
1) Level 1: The transistor
Transistors are the building blocks of all electronics, as they control how electricity flows through a circuit. Without them, computers and other devices couldn’t exist. In order to create a transistor, you need three things: a semiconductor material, an insulating material called gate oxide and two metal electrodes called contacts. The semiconductor material can be silicon or gallium arsenide. Silicon is used in most transistors today because it’s inexpensive and easy to work with. The gate oxide insulates the transistor from electric currents flowing in other parts of the circuit, which allows for switching between current paths on demand without interference from these other currents. The contacts are connected to wires that carry electricity into and out of the transistor.
2) Level 2: The logic gate
The second level in VLSI design is the logic gate. Logic gates are used to manipulate data by checking for a certain condition, and then outputting either a 1 or 0 depending on that condition. The most simple example of this would be an OR gate. This gate will output a 1 if either input A or input B produces a 1, otherwise it will produce a 0. Other gates include AND, NAND, NOR, XOR and XNOR gates. There are also storage elements which can store values until they are used at a later time. These elements can be latches, flip-flops and more complicated storage devices called registers and RAM cells respectively.
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3) Level 3: The integrated circuit
Level three of VLSI design, the integrated circuit, begins with layouts. A layout has to be constructed in a way that makes it easy to manufacture using conventional semiconductor processing equipment. This includes standardizing all elements in a layout, which are typically represented as geometric shapes such as rectangles and circles. The complexity of this process depends on the application of course. For example, a chip for a DVD player may only require one or two layers while an Ethernet router may have ten or more layers. Making some areas thicker than others can also be helpful when routing connections from one layer to another. There are many popular software programs that allow engineers to create layouts including Cadence’s Allegro PCB Designer and Mentor Graphics’ PADS Layout 16XL Pro.
4) Level 4: The system on a chip
Level 4 of the VLSI design process is essentially a scaled down computer system. This level requires that the chip be designed with an operating system and all necessary software. Once this has been done, Level 5 can begin. The most time consuming part of Level 4 for computer engineers is making sure that all hardware devices (like network cards) are correctly interfaced to software drivers. In other words, they need to make sure that any module within a chip (i.e. RAM, graphics card) is able to communicate with its corresponding driver in order to function properly within the operating system environment.
5) Level 5: The 3D chip
Level 5 of VLSI design has come a long way from its inception, and it’s just starting to take over the world. It might be hard to believe that we’re now at a level 5 in this discipline, but it’s true. In fact, there are seven reasons why we’re at level five right now and why this form of design will continue to grow.
The five levels of VLSI design are: 1) Logic level, 2) Register Transfer Level (RTL), 3) Gate Level, 4) Circuit Level, and 5) Layout. The most important level is the layout because it gives you a visual representation of how your circuit should be laid out. The second most important level is the circuit level because it provides an accurate way to simulate what your circuit will do in real life. All these levels have their own purpose and knowing which one to use for which type of problem can make a big difference in how easily you solve them.