1. Design Glossary
ADC: Analog to Digital Converter
AES: Advanced encryption standard
Adder: Circuit to add two numbers
ALU: Arithmetic logic unit
Amdahl’s Law: Amdahl’s law of diminishing returns for speeding up fixed workloads
Arbiter: Arbitrates between competing requesters
ASIC: Application specific integrated circuit.
Audio codec: Device/program that compresses/decompresses digital audio
Boolean algebra: Algebra in which variables are either true or false
BTB: Branch target buffer
Cache: Local storage of program and/or data for future use.
Cache coherence: Consistency of shared data that is stored in multiple local caches.
CAM: Content addressable memory
CISC: Complex instruction set computing
Coprocessor: A processor used to supplement operations of a primary (host) processor.
CPI: Cycles per instruction
CPU: Central processing unit
CRC: Cyclic redundancy check
CSA: Carry save adder
DAC: Digital to Analog Converter
Distributed Computing: Computer with components working towards common goal with without strict coupling.
DLL: Delay locked loop
DMA: Direct memory access
DDR:Double data rate
DDS: Direct digital synthesis
DSM: Distributed shared memory
DSP: Digital signal processor
ECC: Error correcting code
Ethernet: Family of standard network technologies
Fault Tolerance: The ability of a system to keep operating in the event of failure of one of its components.
FRAM: Non-volatile RAM based on ferroelectric layer.
FPGA: Field-programmable gate array is a chip that can be reprogrammed “in the field”.
FIFO: First in first out buffer
GPU: Integrated circuit for accelerating the creation of graphics on a display.
DRAM: Dynamic random-access semiconductor memory
Flash: Non-volatile semiconductor memory
FFT: Fast Fourier transform
FPU: Floating point unit
GPIO: General purpose input output, controllable at run time
Gray code: Binary system where successive values differ by one bit
HBM: High bandwidth memory
I2C: Multi-master 2 wire bus
LAN: Local area network
LFSR: Linear feedback shift register
LSB: Least significant bit
LUT: An array that replaces runtime computation with a simpler array indexing operation
LVDS: Low-voltage differential signaling (also TIA/EIA-644)
MII: Media independent interface for PHY chips
MIMD: Multiple instructions multiple data architecture
MMU: Memory management unit
MSB: Most significant bit
Multiplier: Binary multiplier
NCO: Numerically controlled oscillator
NOC: Network on a chip
Parallel Computing: A type of computation where many operations are carried out simultaneously.
PCM: Phase change memory
PCIe: High Speed serial computer expansion bus
PIC: Programmable interrupt controller
Priority Encoder: A circuit or algorithm that compresses multiple binary inputs into a smaller number of outputs
PLL: Phase locked loop
PWM: Pulse width modulation
Q: Q fixed point number format
RAID: Redundant array of disks
Reconfigurable Computing: Collection of customizable datapaths connected together by a fabric
RISC: Reduced instruction set computing
ROM: Read only memory (denser than RAM)
SBC: Single board computers
SDR: Software defined radio
Shift Register: Set of registers that shifts bits one position at a time
SIMD: Single instruction multiple data
Schmitt Trigger: Comparator circuit with hysteresis
SPI: Synchronous 4 wire master/slave interface
SRAM: Static random access semiconductor memory
TLB: Translation lookaside buffer
UART: Asynchronous 2 wire point to point interface
USB: 2 wire point to point 5 V interface
Video codec: Device/program that compresses/decompresses digital video
Virtual Memory: The automatic mapping of virtual program addresses to physical addresses
VLIW: Very long instruction level parallelism
WAN: Wide area network
WIFI: Wireless local area network
8b10b: Code that maps 8-bits to 10bit DC balanced symbols
Antenna effect: Plasma induced gate oxide damage that can occur during semiconductor processing.
Asynchronous logic: Logic not governed by a clock circuit or global clock.
ATPG: Automatic test pattern generation
BIST: Built in Self Test
Chip: A set of electronic circuits on one small plate (“chip”) of semiconductor material, normally silicon.
Clock domain crossing: Traversal of signal in synchronous digital ssytem from one clock domain to another.
Clock gating: Technique whereby clock in synchronous logic is shut off when idle.
CMOS: Complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor
Cross talk: The coupling of nearby signals on a chip, usually through capacitive coupling.
CTS: Clock tree synthesis
Domino logic: Fast clocked logic with reduced capacitive load
DEF: Design Exchange Format for layout
DFM: Extended DRC rules specifying how to make a high yielding design.
DFT: Design for test
Die: Small block of semiconductor material that can be cut (“diced”) from a silicon wafer.
DRC: Design Rule Constraints specifying manufacturing constraints.
DV: Design verification is the process of verifying that the logic design conforms to specification.
ECO: Engineering change order
EDA: Electronic Design Automation tools used to enhance chip design productivity.
EDA companies: List of EDA companies
Electromigration: Transport of material caused by the gradual movement of the ions in a conductor.
EMI: Electromagnetic interference.
ESD: Electrostatic discharge is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects.
Fabless: The design and sale of semiconductor devices while outsourcing the manufacturing to 3rd party.
FEOL: Front end of line processing. Includes all chip processing up to but not including metal interconnect layers.
Flip-flop:: A clocked circuit that has two stable states and can be used to store state information.
Foundry: Semiconductor company offering manufacturing services.
Full custom design: Design methodology involving layout and interconnection of individual transistors.
GDSII: Binary format of design database sent to foundry.
Hardware Emulation: Process of imitating the behavior a system under design with another piece of hardware.
HDL: Specialized hardware description lanaguage for describing electronic circuits.
Hold time: Minimum time synchronous input should hold steady after clock event.
IP: Semiconductor reusable design blocks containing author’s Intellectual Property.
IP Vendors: List of commercial semiconductor IP vendors.
ISI: Intersymbol interference
Jitter: Deviation from perfect periodicity.
Latchup: Short circuit due to creation of a low-impedance path between the power supply rails of a circuit.
Layout: Physical representation of an integrated circuit.
LEF: Standard Cell Library Exchange Format layout.
Logical Effort: Technique used to normalize (and optimize) digital circuits speed paths.
LVS: Layout Versus Schematic software checks that the layout is identical to the netlist.
Mask Works: Copyright law dedicated to 2D and 3D integrated circuit “layouts”.
Mealy machine: A finite state machine whose outputs depend on current state and the current inputs.
Metastability: Ability of a digital electronic system to persist for an unbounded time in an unstable equilibrium.
MLS: Packaging and handling precautions for some semiconductors.
Moore Machine: Finite state machine whose outputs depend only on its current state.
Moore’s Law: Observation by Moore that the number of transistors in an IC doubles approximately every two years.
MOSFET: Metal oxide field effect transistor.
MOSIS: Foundry service project offering MPWs and low volume manufacturing.
MPW: Multi-project wafer service that integrates multiple designs on one reticle (aka “shuttle”).
MTBF: Mean time between failures.
Multi-threshold CMOS: CMOS technology with multiple transistor types with different threshold voltages.
Optical proximity correction: Technique used to compensate for semiconductor diffraction/process effects.
Pass Transistor Logic: Logic that connects input to non-gate terminal of mosfet transistor.
Physical design: Physical design flow (“layout”).
PDK: Process design kits consisting of a minimum set of files needed to design in a specific process.
Power gating: Technique used to reduce leakage/standby power by shutting of the supply to the circuit.
P&R: Automated Place and Route of a circuit using an EDA tool.
PVT Corners: Represents the extreme process, voltage, temperature that could occur in a given semiconductor process.
Radiation Hardening: Act of making devices resistant to damage caused by ionizing radiation.
RTL: Design abstraction for digital circuit design.
Setup time: Minimum time synchronous input should be ready before clock event.
SEU: Change of state caused by one single ionizing particle (ions, electrons, photons…).
Signoff: The final approval that the design is ready to be sent to foundry for manufacturing.
SOC: System On Chip
Spice: Open source analog electronic circuit simulator.
STA: Method of computing the expected timing of a digital circuit without requiring full circuit simulation.
Standard Cell Design: Design process relying on a fixed set of standard cells.
Subthreshold Leakage: Current between source and drain in MOSFET when transistor is “off”.
Synchronous logic: Logic whose state is controlled by a synchronous clock.
Synthesis: Translation of high level design description (e.g. Verilog) to a netlist format (e.g. standard cell gate level).
SystemC: Set of C++ classes and macros for simulation. Commonly used for high level modeling and testing.
Tape-out: Act of sending photomask chip database (“layout”) to the manufacturer.
TCL: Scripting language used by most of the leading EDA chip design tools.
Transistor: A semiconductor device used to amplify/switch electronic signals.
Verilog: The dominant hardware description language (HDL) for chip design.
VLSI: Very large Integrated Circuit (somewhat outdated term, everything is VLSI today).
Von Neumann architecture: Computer architecture in which instructions and data are stored in the same memory.
UVM: Universal Verification Methodology
BEOL: Back end of line processing for connecting together devices using metal interconnects.
Dicing: Act of cutting up wafer into individual dies.
FinFet: Non planar, double-gate transistor.
Photo-lithography: Process used in micro-fabrication to pattern parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate.
Photomasks: Opaque plates with holes or transparencies that allow light to shine through in a defined pattern.
Reticle: A set of photomasks used by a stepper to step and print patterns onto a silicon wafer.
Semiconductor Fabrication: Process used to create the integrated circuits.
Silicon: Element (Si), forms the basis of the electronic revolution.
Silicon on insulator: Layered silicon–insulator–silicon with reduced parasitic capacitance.
Stepper: Machine that passes light through reticle onto the silicon wafer being processed.
TSV: Vertical electrical connection (via) passing completely through a silicon wafer or die.
Wafer:: Thin slice of semiconductor material used in electronics for the fabrication of integrated circuits.
Wafer thinning: Wafer thickness reduction to allow for stacking and high density packaging.
3D IC’s: The process of stacking integrated circuits and connecting them through TSVs.
BGA: Ball grid array is a type of surface-mount packaging (a chip carrier) used for integrated circuits.
BGA substrate: A miniaturized PCB that mates the silicon die to BGA pins.
Bumping: Placing of bumps on wafer/dies in preparation for package assembly.
DIMM: Dual in line memory module.
Flip-chip: Method of bonding a silicon die to package using solder bumps.
IC Assembly: Semiconductor die is encased in a supporting case “package”.
Interposer: Electrical interface used to spread a connection to a wider pitch.
Heat sink: A passive heat exchanger.
Heat pipe: Device for efficiently transferring heat between two solid interfaces .
KGD: Known Good Die. Dies that have been completely tested at wafer probe.
Leadframe: Metal structure inside a chip package that carry signals from the die to the outside.
POP: Package on Package
SIP: System In Package
SMT: Technique whereby packaged chips are mounted directly onto the PCB surface.
Through-hole: TPackage pins inserted in drilled holes and soldered on opposite side of the board.
Wirebond: Method of bonding a silicon die to a package using wires.
WSI: Wafer scale integration
Arbitrary Waveform Generator: Electronic instrument used to generate arbitrary signal waveforms.
ATE: Automatic Test Equipment for testing integrated circuits.
Burn-in: Process of screening parts for potential premature life time failures.
DIB: Device Interface Board for interfacing DUT to ATE. Also called DUT board, probe card, load board, PIB.
DMM: Electronic instrument for measuring voltage, current, and resistance.
DUT: Device under test
FIB: Focused ion beam
JTAG: Industry standard for verifying and testing/debugging printed circuit boards after manufacturing.
Logic Analyzer: Electronic instrument for capturing multiple digital signal from a system.
MCM: Multi-chip Module
Oscilloscope: Electronic instrument for tracking the change of an electrical signal over time.
Probe Card: A direct interface between electronic test systems and a semiconductor wafer.
SEM: Scanning electron microscope
Shmoo Plot: An ASCII plot of a component response over a range of conditions.
Spectrum Analyzer: Electronic instrument for measuring the power of the spectrum of an unknown signal.