With video conferences getting more and more popular it is a question how to present yourself most effectively to your counterparts, this starts with your outfit and ends with the background. Very advanced colleagues with powerful laptops use artificial backgrounds, others prefer contemporary art or company logos, but the most classical background is a bookshelf filled with selected literature. I would like to present two books, which are a perfect addition to the bookshelf of a microelectronics engineer.
I’m joking, of course, but both books do provide valuable modern microelectronics knowledge and they perfectly complete each other. The first book “Electronic Experiences in a Virtual Lab” is written by Roberto Gastaldi and Giovanni Campardo. Both authors have rich teaching and industry experience, so they really know and understand what they are writing about.
The idea was to write a book for students of microelectronics, who do not have access to a fully equipped electronics lab (sounds familiar nowadays, doesn’t it?), therefore all labs have been created using PSpice analog simulator from Cadence, which is part of the OrCAD package.
By the way every student can download OrCAD package for free at https://www.orcad.com/orcad-academic-program.
The experiments start from a description of basic principles of electronics commonly used in circuit design practice and end with a combination of several sub-blocks into a complex circuit, like an FM transmitter. This encourages students to use a bottom-up approach, which is often used at companies for the creation of modern circuits. Analog and digital circuits are described, even RF circuits are mentioned. And a whole separate chapter is dedicated to usage of PSpice.
The target audience of this book are people who are familiar with the basics of microelectronics. It cannot replace theory lectures from a professor, while some theoretical backgrounds are mentioned in the book, it is not enough to understand them, so the reader should already be familiar with the physics and mathematics of electronics. A professor or assistant might be inspired by the book to learn how to provide virtual labs to students, and, for someone like myself, whose university days have passed long ago, this book is a refresher to the knowledge received from university. Also, if you happen to be an amateur radio hobbyist preparing yourself for an exam, this book can help you to refresh your knowledge on high- and low-passes, opAmps, and oscillators. The book is available where books are sold, like on Amazon.
The second book “Fundamentals of Layout Design for Electronics Circuits” is written by Professor Jens Lienig from Dresden University of Technology and Professor Jürgen Scheible from University of Reutlingen. Jürgen is a very active supporter of Cadence Academic Network and his students have won multiple Master Thesis Awards, so this is proof that he is an excellent teacher and researcher. Prof. Lienig is also one of the most respectable professors for EDA in Europe and is an active contributor to EDA conferences like ICCAD.
They have written a much-needed book on modern methods of layout creation, which are becoming necessary due to the multi-billion gates designs in technologies, dealing with multi-patterning, layout-dependant stress effects and 3D transistors. At the same time, the design must be reliable, and age and noise-resistant, in order to be used in mission-critical environments like self-driving cars. EDA is always introducing higher abstraction levels for increasing productivity, but still there is a point in the design flow, when all these transistors have to be put on a 2D-area, all physical and electrical rules must be obeyed, and the yield must be high enough for economical production of the chips. This is where the magic of the layout kicks in and every process generation introduces new rules and constrains.
The book starts with technology know-how and explaining what is happening at foundry, knowing this background, a layouter can understand why certain design checking rules have been defined. One abstraction level higher is the Process Design Kit (PDK), which defines devices with models, available layers, connectivity stack, and geometrical and electrical design rules, this is something a layouter should become familiar with when starting to work on a new process node. The next step described is the design flows, when the schematic has been “thrown over the wall” and the layout process starts. Analog, digital and mixed-signal design flows are also covered.
Creators of EDA tools have introduced a lot of tools to make the life of a layouter easier and increase their productivity. Different flows are served by different tools, one example from the analog world is Cadence PCellDesigner, a tool which is used for the creation of Programmable Cells, which then are used in analog design and represent yet another level of abstraction from simple devices. The final chapter of the book describes different reliability issues appearing in the layout and how to handle them. The target group for this book are students and engineers who are interested in modern circuit layout, here they find the right compendium for all its aspects. The book is also available on Amazon.
So, whether you are trying to improve your virtual meeting background or your knowledge of microelectronics, both books are a perfect addition to your bookshelf!