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Engineering the CMOS Library: Enhancing Digital Design Kits for Competitive Silicon by DAVID DOMAN

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CHAPTER 4

MEMORY COMPILERS

4.1 LESSON FROM THE REAL WORLD: THE MANAGER’S PERSPECTIVE AND THE ENGINEER’S PERSPECTIVE

The very first technology that I was involved with (in the industry as opposed to at a university electrical engineering department) was at 1.25-micron very-high-speed integrated circuit (VHSIC) level design. VHSIC was a U.S.-government sponsored program in the early 1980s that had among other goals kick-starting what was then viewed as a foundering U.S. high-technology industry that was apparently falling behind the technical innovations of the rest of world. The need for such a program back then, the lasting effects of this program on the future trends of the integrated circuit design world, and the success of the of the designs that came out of that environment either directly or indirectly in many aspects of modern society over the last 30 years can be debated. However, it did allow for my earliest employment in the industry.

One of the integrated circuit designs that the VHSIC contractor that I worked for was developing was an early version of a microprocessor. That microprocessor was a simple von Neumann architecture that involved a data path (and a controller) that interfaced with an off-chip memory. However, the data path had two sets of “internal-to-the-device” memory connected to it. The first was a large memory array (for the time) of half-word addressable, 32 bits by 32 words, that had contents that had to be guaranteed stable between microprocessor operations ...

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