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Promising career in chip design industry

I am pursuing my M.Tech in VLSI. Please provide information about career prospects in this field. Also, give me some details of research opportunities. – N. Dhanunjay

VLSI or very large-scale integration is about miniaturisation to such a great extent that even a micro-metre or micro-second is considered a huge unit of measurement! With smart and intelligent devices becoming a rage everywhere in the world, career opportunities in the chip design industry have seen an exponential rise.

VLSI design has ample scope for outsourcing as circuits are designed at locations around the world and manufactured elsewhere. This outsourcing advantage of VLSI design is attracting international players in this field, like IBM, Philips, Motorola, Texas Instruments, SGS-Thompson, Intel, Mentor Graphics and Cirrus Logic, to India.

VLSI design is a dynamic profession where careers can be highly satisfying as they focus on innovation in a rapidly changing environment. This field offers immense growth prospects for competent, hardworking people and keen learners.

The two main aspects in VLSI design are front end and backend. Front-end design includes digital design, design verification and design for testability. You should be not only be thorough in fundamental concepts but also be proficient with tools and design flows. Back-end design consists of Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor library design and characterisation, physical design, packaging, test generation and fault simulation.

You can choose between various job roles such as design engineer, chip architect, production engineer, testing or process specialist, physical designer or circuit designer. On the other hand if you want to pursue Ph.D you may take up research in the hardware or software development and testing domains.

The IIT Kharagpur (, IIT Kanpur (, IIT Madras (, IIT Bombay ( and also various NITs and other institutes offer excellent opportunities for doctoral research in the VLSI domain. The important areas of research include material research for VLSI, Circuit simulation for design of modern VLSI circuits, mixed signal VLSI design, asynchronous systems, molecular electronics using DNA porphyrins and conducting polymers.

Nowadays, we have become absolutely dependent on microchips as they are present in almost every appliance from mobiles, TV remotes, and dish washers to rockets and missiles. This has increased the demand for chip designers in every sector. Automobile sector, consumer electronics, robotics, medical electronics, space research and defence research organisations are some avenues for professionals in VLSI designing.

In the government sector, Ministry of Communications and Information technology, department of Electronics, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), Semi-Conductor Laboratory ( SCL), Society for Integrated Circuit Technology and Applied Research (SITAR), DRDO, DLRL, ISRO and BARC are key players who recruit VLSI design professionals.

Some of the major recruitment companies in the VLSI field in the private sector are HCL Technologies, Intel, Micron Tech, Alliance Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Lucent, Motorola, Philips Semiconductor, TCS, Wipro, Synopsis and Cadence.

T. Muralidharan

TMI e2E Academy

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