- VLSI Design Training Actions

Augustin W. KAESSER



Sankt Augustin, Germany


European industry requires highly trained engineers with a good working knowledge and experience of microelectronic systems. The lack of microelectronic expertise in industry has been limiting the competitiveness of many sectors of European industry. To overcome these limitations, the VLSI Design Training Action was established in 1989 within ESPRIT Basic Research and continued under a new contract in 1992. The Action was continuously updated in this fast changing discipline to ensure that the training has been relevant to the needs of European industry and to provide services which enable academia and industry to collaborate.

A central Service Organization EUROCHIP was formed by the following six leading institutions to support academic institutions within the EU:

CMP, Grenoble, France

CNM, Barcelona, Spain

DTU, Lyngby, Denmark

GMD, St. Augustin, Germany

IMEC, Leuven, Belgium and

RAL, Chilton, United Kingdom

Initially, some 120 academic institutions received support for their design training infrastructure as well as free access to industrial microchip fabrication. Attracted by the benefits of the Action, some 300 additional academic institutions joined to take part on a "pay-as-use" basis. A total of 417 academic institutions from Community and EFTA countries including 27 institutions from Central and Eastern countries have been involved by the end of the EUROCHIP Action in SEPTEMBER 1995.

All academic institutions have been supported in the use of design software and in low cost prototype chip fabrication. Additionally, advanced training courses for professors and academic staff have been developed and organized. An annual workshop was held and a regular newsletter was distributed. In addition, a harmonized programme was set up to promote technology transfer to industry and to encourage academia and industry to work more closely together for mutual benefit.

Some figures given below show the impact of the EUROCHIP Action:

417 academic institutions became members

more than 3.000 contracts were concluded with suppliers and members

16.000 copies of 20 different software products were distributed

202 fabrication runs were held in 12 different technologies with more than 2.700

circuits fabricated, including 116 industrial designs, plus 20 circuits for SMIs which have been transferred to small volume

about 20 design kits were developed or adapted as needed

23 basic software training courses with 274 participants were organised, held by

the vendors

18 advanced training courses with 760 participants have been developed and given

4 seminars were given by GaAs foundries with 40 participants

5 annual workshops were organised

63 regional meetings were held (at least once per year in each region)

some 15.000 students were trained at the academic institutions per year

more than 1.500 reports from the academic institutions have been evaluated


To improve the cooperation with academic institutions from Central and Eastern Europe and to give them the possibility to benefit from the EUROCHIP services, the EUROEAST project has been set up by the European Commission in April 1994. These academic institutions have been supported to purchase and to use design software, to participate in the EUROCHIP low cost prototype chip fabrication service, and to take part in the training courses offered by EUROCHIP.

Some funding through the EUROEAST contract was allocated to activities not only of the five partners from Central and Eastern European countries, but also to all other EUROCHIP members from these countries.

In the first year, first chips from universities of Central and Eastern European countries were given to fabrication which was free of charge for these institutions; the cost was paid through the EUROEAST contract. A lot of software was purchased by institutions from Central and Eastern European countries; they received financial support for software maintenance. They also received financial support for travel to participate in EUROCHIP events (workshop, advanced training courses).

The second year of this project was characterized by the end of the EUROCHIP services in September 1995 and the switch to the new EUROPRACTICE services. After the first try in the first year, the institutions now were able to submit 26 designs for fabrication which all were paid through the central fund managed by GMD.

In the third year, all EUROEAST partners and academic institutions from C+E countries made profit from the investments they made the years before. They made great progress in their teaching and training programms using the software and chip fabrication facilities offered by EUROPRACTICE. It was still possible to give some financial support.

Some figures show the impact of the EUROEAST project:

about 30 institutions from C+E countries obtained benefits from the EUROCHIP /


26 institutions are now using modern CAD tools with a total of more than 300 licenses

19 institutions received support for 1 or 2 software maintenance periods

37 chips were fabricated via EUROCHIP and paid by EUROEAST

another 14 chips were fabricated via EUROPRACTICE; 6 received financial support

3 special training courses were given (2 courses for CAD tools, 1 for GaAs design)

13 scientists from 6 different institutions participated in 7 EUROCHIP advanced training courses; 6 of them received travel support

The five Eastern partners made great progress in their special teaching and training activities; details are given in this report.

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