VLSI

Microwave, RF, Analog, and Digital

Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) is the process of creating integrated circuits by combining thousands of transistor-based circuits into a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s when complex semiconductor and communication technologies were being developed.




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The first semiconductor chips held one transistor each. Subsequent advances added more and more transistors, and as a consequence more individual functions or systems were integrated over time. The microprocessor is a VLSI device.

The first "generation" of computers relied on vacuum tubes. Then came discrete semiconductor devices, followed by integrated circuits. The first Small-Scale Integration (SSI) ICs had small numbers of devices on a single chip - diodes, transistors, resistors and capacitors (no inductors though), making it possible to fabricate one or more logic gates on a single device. The fourth generation consisted of Large-Scale Integration (LSI), i.e. systems with at least a thousand logic gates. The natural successor to LSI was VLSI (many tens of thousands of gates on a single chip). Current technology has moved far past this mark and today's microprocessors have many millions of gates and hundreds of millions of individual transistors.

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