VINNOVA Industrial Excellence Center - System Design on Silicon
2008-01-01 -> 2017-12-31
The SoS center is a part of the larger research environment at Lund University, where SoS has the shortest path to industry, while more exploratory work is financed by other funding agencies. Nevertheless, in discussing new research proposals, the SoS industrial network is crucial for obtaining a highly desirable industrial perspective. Conversely, the center acts as an antenna inside the scientific community, providing the SoS industrial partners with a technology outlook that has a longer time perspective and a broader view than what is usually the case in a purely industrial environment. The cross-fertilization of industry and academia within SoS is the center’s foremost mission, together with the establishment and maintenance of a critical mass of faculty members in IC design, itself the fundamental prerequisite for the top-quality education the industry is so crucially dependent on.
An industrial center must manage several issues, the foremost being the partial conflict between scientific innovation and commercial relevance. The center, however, has been successful pursuing the latter target as well, with a number of inventions that have produced scientific publications, patent applications, and IC prototypes close to commercialization. We strongly believe that a fundamental ingredient in SoS’s success recipe is the liberal exchange of ideas and the mutual trust between its partners.
The research area of the center, with a special emphasis on hardware platforms for mobile terminals, has witnessed tremendous transformations during the last two decades. Wireless communications have evolved from a niche market to a commodity entering every part of our society, and every corner of the earth. This trend will continue, as wireless communications are rapidly entering new areas, e.g. health care, automotive, smart homes and buildings, while keeping expanding at a fantastic rate in the traditional fields of telecommunications. As a consequence, the demands on the hardware platforms are becoming highly diversified, since they have to fulfill a wide span of contradicting requirements, such as energy consumption, data throughput, frequency bands, and physical size, as well as standards, e.g. LTE, WLAN, GSM, GPS, DVB, 60GHz and other mm-wave links, etc., with the ultimate desire to integrate them all on a single platform. Pursuing this vision, SoS addresses the main challenges of multi-standard multi-band terminals in the analog/RF, mixed-signal, and digital domains. This enterprise, addressing as it is a very rapidly growing multi-billion world market, is of the greatest relevance for the industrial partners of SoS.
While our main research effort is focused on mobile/cellular communications, we have to pay great attention to the most promising emerging fields in the greater area of wireless communications. This has been possible by acquiring additional funds for pursuing such research areas, e.g. the SSF project “Wireless Communication for Ultra Portable Devices” (targeting implantable medical applications), and the SSF center “High Speed Wireless Communication” (for extremely high signal throughput). These areas are of long-term interest to the industrial partners of SoS, and have a high potential of generating results interesting enough for future technology transfer. A little further ahead, we (as many other) believe that Moore’s law (i.e., the almost constant rate of technology scaling that has helped IC designers for five decades so far) will cease ruling the integrated CMOS world. New technologies will be needed within the planned lifetime of SoS, perhaps not yet in consumer products, but certainly in research and development. Therefore, it is highly desirable that the center is active in this field as well, and during the last few years a strong collaboration has been established between the circuit design groups and the nano-electronics group at Lund University, leading to circuits integrated with nano-wire transistors fabricated in-house. At the same time, SoS is experimenting with cutting-edge commercial technologies other than vanilla CMOS, e.g. the 28nm FD-SOI CMOS provided by SoS-partner STMicroelectronics – an otherwise very costly luxury that few research centers can afford.