Grand Challenges in Microelectronic Design

Supported by EPSRC Network grant EP/D054028/1

Andrew Brown, University of Southampton
Steve Furber, University of Manchester
Roger Woods, Queens University Belfast


The UK microelectronic design research community comprises diverse groups occupying many different positions across a vast spectrum of research interests: projects range from novel biologically-inspired systems through to Systems- and Networks-on-Chip, from high-level behavioural synthesis tools (silicon compilation) to low-level analogue circuit techniques. Strengths in academic research complement strengths in the UK design industry.

Following a series of open meetings under the heading of "Developing a Common Vision for UK research in Microelectronic Design", a strong consensus emerged that the subject is centred around a number of core technologies and that these can be focussed coherently under a set of Grand Challenges. An open call for Grand Challenge proposals yielded a set of strawman outlines that were refined into the four Grand Challenges that will be described in this talk.

The objective of defining these Grand Challenges is to develop a consensus as to where the major research challenges lie, and thereby to encourage greater coherence, communication and collaboration across the research community. The ultimate achievement of any of these Grand Challenges will represent a breakthrough for the research community, UK-based industry and the general public. Coherent movement towards these goals will require sustained world-class research involving international and inter-disciplinary collaboration.

While the meetings that have occurred drew an important proportion of the UK design research community together, one of the more important goals of the exercise is inclusivity: to reach out to sectors of the community that were not able to participate fully in the initial discussions, to inform of the goals and progress of the project, and to invite and encourage participation in a subsequent set of meetings this coming October.

Whilst the talk is aimed primarily at academic staff and senior researchers, any industrial contacts that might be interested are very welcome.