We are happy to publish book reviews, like this one from Dr. Georges Gielen of the KU Leuven in Belgium, for the greater good of the semiconductor ecosystem. So, if you have a semiconductor book you would like to review for fame not fortune let me know.
Stephan Weber, Cadence, Germany
Candido Duarte, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Publishers: River Publishers
Fueled by the continuous downscaling of transistors in the CMOS VLSI technology, integrated electronic circuits are the cornerstone of most applications and devices we use in our daily lives today. From the radio and TV to our smartphone, from our car to the dishwasher, from our laptop to the heart rate monitor we use while jogging, just to name a few. Electronics add intelligence and controllability to objects, and wireless connectivity adds on top mobility and universal connectedness across the globe. But while digital integrated systems are mostly designed in a highly automated manner at higher abstraction levels starting from some form of language-based description, analog and mixed-signal electronic circuits are still today mostly designed at block and circuit level and with little or no automation, be it of course not without individual CAD tools.
Such electronic circuit design is by far not an easy task, not easy to carry out and not easy to learn. The main reasons are the many complex and often conflicting relationships between design variables and circuit performances, the underdetermined nature of the design problem at hand, and the impact of internal and external variations. The many degrees of freedom in the design and the sheer high-dimensional complexity challenge our human brain. As a result, designing a circuit that is optimal in some desired sense and that is guaranteed to meet the targeted requirements and specifications under all fabrication and operational circumstances is not at all trivial. But although it may look as an art to some, it’s a skill that actually can be mastered by many by combining experience with analytic insight and systematic design methodology.
While various widely used analog “circuit design” textbooks essentially restrain themselves to presenting and analyzing circuit schematics, this book goes way beyond that and actually presents design from a pragmatic design viewpoint: it describes a systematic variation-aware approach to interactively design fully functional circuits with the help of advanced CAD tools. While EDA tool research is progressing continuously in academia and industry, also for analog and mixed-signal circuits, fully automatic synthesis of analog circuits in general is probably not to be expected soon as commercial offering. Yet, powerful CAD tools for simulation/analysis as well as for optimization have been developed over the last decades. In combination with a systematic design strategy and the power of today’s computers, these can be used to successfully crack the nut of designing a functional electronic circuit.
This book will show you how, and does that in a practical way with several design examples. Large focus is on dealing with the impact of variations due to the fabrication process as well as through the environment. Using advanced statistics and going beyond classical corner and Gaussian analysis, the impact of these variations is analyzed and circuits are optimized for robustness and maximum yield. Though the CAD techniques used are state-of-the-art commercial offerings, the authors are no blind tool believers, and clearly pinpoint the limitations of the tools used. As always, the computer only gives you what you ask for.
Considering its unique focus on a systematic variation-aware and tool-supported approach for designing electronic circuits, this book is recommended reading for practicing design engineers, electronic design engineering students as well as EDA developers. As such, the book illustrates in a pragmatic way that circuit design in today’s world is so much more than magic, it is magic that everyone can master !
Prof. Georges G. E. Gielen
University of Leuven, Belgium