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Get Started with VLSI Technology!

Updated: May 2, 2023

The main concept or aim of this field is to integrate various logic devices such as diodes, #transistors in a smaller area. The micro component of this #VLSI concept is INTEGRATED CIRCUIT [IC]. The concept of VLSI began after the development of complex #semiconductors and communication technologies. CPU, RAM, ROM, glue logic are the essential attributes for an electronic circuit.

The VLSI helps us to integrate all these into a single chip. The microprocessor is a VLSI device. In this article, we are going to see about some basic concepts of IC, the importance, and the future of VLSI #technology.

Integrated Circuits:

It is nothing but a chip or microchip, a #semiconductor-based device on which thousands of resistors, capacitors, and transistors are fabricated. The first IC was fabricated by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce in 1958. It composes a design of flip flop using two #transistors. Integrated circuits are basically classified upon, the number of #transistors that can be sandwiched in a single chip. The classification as follows,

  • Small Scale Integration (SSI) - 10 #transistors

  • Medium Scale Integration (MSI) - 10 to 100 #transistors

  • Large Scale Integration (LSI) - 100 to 10,000 transistors

  • Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) - 10,000 to 100,000 transistors

  • Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI) - 100,000 to 1,000,000 transistors

  • Giga Scale Integration (GSI) - greater than 1,000,000 transistors

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The evolution of IC #technology is based on the complexity of the circuit built on a single chip. The main advantage of IC chips is that the physical size of the IC is extremely smaller when compared to the discrete circuits. It is more reliable and composes of less weight. It has a high operating speed and consumes less power when compared to other circuits. The major drawback of IC technology is, the inductors and transformers cannot be fabricated in IC and it can also handle only a limited amount of voltage. The advancement in IC technology leads to an exciting creation of new concepts of electronics, communications, and computing systems.

How VLSI was developed?

The #VLSI concept began in the 1970s when complex semiconductors and telecommunication technologies were being developed. Most ICs possess a limited set of functions, before the introduction of VLSI technology. Very Large Scale Technology or VLSI was developed with the help of MOS transistor, invented by Dawon Khang and Mohamad M Atalia in 1959 at Bells Laboratory. In the early 1970s, MOS #integrated circuit technology allowed the integration of more than 10,000 transistors in a single chip. This paved the way for VLSI later with tens of thousands of MOS transistors on a single chip.

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In 2008, the production of billion transistor processors was commercialized due to the development of huge electrical appliances. Nowadays to enable a higher level of complexity, automated logic synthesis, and design automation techniques are employed in the manufacturing of transistors to improve its logic functionality.

Why #VLSI technology?

The importance of #VLSI technology can be realized from a simple question. Can we imagine a day without any electronic gadgets? The answer is absolute no. Even if we wish, in this modern era it is impossible because all the necessary and essential operations are functioning with the help of electronic gadgets. Starting with mobile phones, personal computers, digital cameras all these devices make the use of VLSI.

In the medical field, VLSI technology has a significant impact because of its small size and low cost, and great versatility. The cost-effectiveness of the medical devices can be improved by VLSI by its advanced, small-sized circuitry.

The Automobile industry employs VLSI technology in the making of several components. The front and rearview cameras in the cars, Anti- Lock braking systems in all kinds of automobiles are constructed with the help of VLSI. Similarly, VLSI has also been employed in voice and data communication networks.

Advantages of VLSI technology:

  • As the VLSI ICs are manufactured in large numbers, its price is much less in the market.

  • The VLSI devices are energy-efficient since they consume low power when compared to other devices.

  • The operating speed is high, as all the components are sandwiched in a single chip.

  • In case of any damage in chips present in the circuit, it can be easily identified and rectified. Troubleshooting is easier when compared to other devices.

  • It occupies a very small area when compared to other conventional devices because all the necessary components are present in a single chip.

  • VLSI technology has high reliability due to the absence of complex interconnections.

  • The weight of each component manufactured using VLSI technology is much lesser because of more circuitry per package.

Disadvantages of VLSI technology:

  • The design of VLSI involves millions of gates, transistors so it may look a bit complex for the beginners.

  • It possesses high levels of abstraction.

The disadvantages are very few in VLSI technology. This is the reason behind the success of implementing the VLSI concept in the manufacturing of commercial electronics.

Applications of VLSI technology:

VLSI has been applied in various fields such as aerospace, consumer electronics, Bio-electronics, wireless communication, and also in defense. In aerospace, VLSI is applied in the takeoff, and landing of airplanes, weather monitoring and to control the operations inside the airplane.

In our home appliances such as a microwave oven, refrigerator, and air conditioners VLSI Technology is applied to improvise its functionality. The temperature control mechanism in these devices, which may be operated either manually or automatically is done with the help of VLSI. Even the remote which is used to control televisions, air coolers is a product of VLSI technology.

In defense, the control and launch of any missiles are done with the help of VLSI. In submarines, the underwater pressure should be monitored precisely for its existence under the water. VLSI devices do that operation because of its accuracy and reliability.

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This VLSI technology plays a vital role in the manufacturing of MEMS. Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems or (MEMS) are nothing but miniaturized mechanical and electro-mechanical elements manufactured using the technique of microfabrication.

Future in VLSI:

Gordon Moore, an industry pioneer predicted that semiconductor technology would increase its efficiency every 18 to 24 months. As per his prediction, the industry of VLSI technology is growing rapidly. Spintronics is a technology that utilizes nanomagnets' spin direction as the state variable. This is an emerging concept that has some unique properties such as nonvolatility, lower device count. Spintronics devices are to be constructed with the help of VLSI technology.

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The researchers are now involved in the development of steep transistors. These are nothing but the one that possesses low sub-threshold slope value. These transistors require a very low amount of voltage to switch between ON/OFF state.

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