Simplifying analog CMOS design

We have developed a method of simplifying physical design for undergraduates enrolled in analog VLSI design. The analog CMOS course is a VLSI design course with laboratory that includes design, fabrication and testing of analog CMOS circuits. A student's design begins with a simple current mirror and ends with different types of sampling circuits such as switched-capacitor and autozero circuits. The layout of thest parts is simplified by using cells similar to those used for analog stack generators. By introducing this course, more advanced digital VLSI courses can be taught at the undergraduate level, including those with larger projects.

A few years ago, the Electrical Engineering Division at Alfred University altered the undergraduate EE curriculum in order to better accommodate advanced VLSI courses at the Senior level[1]. This was done to allow students the opportunity of experience in a wider range of analog, digital systems level, and mixed mode VLSI design. This includes an advanced course in VLSI that is taken on an independent study basis and involves design and testing of a project chip[2]. The project chip was meant to be larger,more complex and contain a combination of hardware, control and data flow structures, various frequencies and voltages. Digital circuits would be mixed with analog.Time to market requirements and increased complexity would place increased demands on risk of errors in the design process A key element in this scheme was the introduction of an analog course at an undergraduate level.The introduction of CMOS analog design has traditionally been reserved as a graduate-level only subject. This is in spite of the fact that analog design includes the basic principles of fabrication, device physics and physical layout that would not have to be included inan introductory digital VLSI course, and would thus be a good prerequisite. A good background in analog design will prepare a student for more advanced VLSI courses. We have designed an analog course that includes theory, design, layout, simulation and testing of simple circuits. We have utilized layout from stack generation to simplify much of the design work for the laboratory. This helps to relieve the student from frustration of physcial design, and provides the professor the opportunity to include more advanced analog design projects into the course.


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