Hi guys,
University/program selection is coming up, and I'm (still) kinda confused. I want to become is an ASIC engineer, making microprocessors, graphics processors, signal processors and the such. What is required of an ASIC Engineer (BS. EE or BS. CompEng)? Would an Electrical Engineer or a Computer Engineer be better suited for the job? Out of curiosity I have started to look at some VHDL source code, looks interesting ;)

What general knowledge is required of that of an ASIC engineer (maybe depending on the overall function of the ASIC being developed). Also any info on your jobs and what your function please let me know, I think I did ask a similar question earlier, but I would like your input once more, I've only got a few months =|.

Thanks for your time.
Posted on 2003-09-15 19:17:52 by x86asm
You definitely want Electrical Eng. if you want ASIC.

ASIC is one of the the hightest payed E.Eng going, and its damn tough to do. In a nut shell the "A" stands for Asyncronous, meaning "not at the same time". In laymans terms you can call it controlled randomness ;)

The problem then comes from designing bit machines outa silicon, where gate outputs from other circuits dont wait at some point for another clock signal to allow them to all move on to further stages "at once". Instead you have to plan, plan, plan to ensure that all possible outcomes are covered and that signals are allowed to arrive to other stages at different times, yet not operate on the untill the correct degree of signals have arrived for that stage to progress.

A 32 bit asic chip can be a nightmare! 32 bits coming into a gate at non-equal times! In a cpu address decoding is typically done with an AND gate activating a bank of memory (like a key in a lock). The upper nibble is the key, and the AND gate is the lock. This works because the and gate gets all the tumblers (bits) filled at relatively the same moment in time. (Shortly after a clock signal allowes the address to be placed on the bus). If you dont have a clock, how do you control "false keys" from other addresses as they randomly pass this AND gate.

This is some examples of the things an ASIC design engineer needs to think about. Your only refuge is there is *some* tools to help you, plus a University education to give you skills in relizing these problems and finding appropriate solutions to make the producct ;) . If you like multidimensional brain teasers this is a good life for you ;)

Posted on 2003-09-15 19:33:25 by NaN
Maybe not "electrical eng." but "electronics eng.".
I was graduated as: "electronics and microelectronics eng."
Posted on 2003-09-16 02:06:48 by JohnFound

Well as far as degree programs go, I would belive it has more dependance on which university you choose. I would pick one in particular, look at the focus of each of their programs, and start making decisions from there. Another thing to keep in mind is that it for the most part doesn't particularly matter which focus of engineering you choose in the very begining, since the pre-requiste courses are almost essentially the same across the various majors (i.e. you don't have to be "sure" in the begining).

Once you actually decide on where, get the know the faculty and they will be best able to assist you in which direction you need to go. I know at my University, the Computer Eng / Electrical Eng programs are identical until the third year abouts, and differ only in about four classes overall. Where I attend, your interests seem more along the CE route than the EE, but again thats entirely dependant on the University. I am currently EE, and diverge from CE to take more theoretical physics (its not called "physics"...but thats what it is :tongue: ) courses.

Anyhow, after you've survived four or five years (we call ours the five in four year program here :grin: ) of pain and torture in ANY engineering degree, you'll be able to move around to whatever variant suits your interest fairly easily :tongue:

Posted on 2003-09-16 21:43:55 by Domain