Overview

Semiconductor industry has faithfully followed Moore's Law of exponential increase in transistor density and resulting exponential performance improvement. However, with increased integration, come also challenges in keeping up with increasing issues from the technology side, as well as the application side. Electronic system design has enjoyed decades of reliable and predictable functionality, but this is no longer the case for future technology nodes. Higher power densities and increased thermal requirements have become first class design constraints. Furthermore, sub-wavelength lithography is causing increased variability in process technology parameters. Not only does manufacturing process-driven variability increase, but system parameter variability (e.g., temperature and voltage variation) increases as well. Finally, emerging devices are disproportionately affected by possible soft errors or decreased reliability due to electromigration, negative bias temperature instability, or hot carrier injection effects. Thus, performance is no longer the main design constraint for electronic systems. Low power consumption/thermal profile and high reliability/robustness have become the staple characteristics of next generation electronic systems. Furthermore, from the perspective of a broader picture, sustainability in computing has a direct societal impact, with deep implications in how computing systems should be built or maintained.

Nexys addresses these challenges by developing holistic solutions in a cross-layer fashion starting at the highest level of abstraction where design are usually specified. The research team builds on a solid record of past achievements:

  • More than 50 alumni at semiconductor companies in the past five years
  • Award-winning, industry-relevant research
  • Technology-transfer via licensing, patenting, start-ups
  • More than a thousand students trained through SoC Certification program.
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Building the Nexys

Our center members are leaders in the development of cross-layer and cross-technology solutions and methodologies for creating systems, particularly at the highest levels of abstraction where designs are typically specified. While the electronic semiconductor industry has recognized this need, many electronic design flows, system architectures, and methodologies in use by industry do not have support for addressing all these challenges at the highest abstraction levels, nor do these flows readily communicate information across abstraction levels, despite many advances in this field. Such cross-layer methodologies have the potential to improve design metrics of interest for next-generation electronic systems by 2-3X over traditional techniques and by more than an order of magnitude over naive integration of emerging technologies.