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IIIT-B rolls VLSI design into software engineering

Posted: 07 May 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:VLSI design  IIIT-B  curriculum  software engineering 

Earlier this year, the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIIT-B) outlined its experiment to integrate VLSI curriculum into its software engineering curriculum. This inventive approach initiated on a modest scale will, apart from attracting more students to the hardware engineering field, ensure that students eventually have increased flexibility to shift between the fields of traditional IT services and VLSI design, believes Dr. G.N. Srinivasa Prasanna, professor at IIIT-B.

The context for IIIT-B's experiment is the growing complementarity between the hardware and software fields, given the increasing significance of programmability in the design of electronic systems, reasoned Prasanna, who did his MS and Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and his B.Tech from IIT Kanpur.

Prasanna updated EE Times India about the status of the programme implementation, "The VLSI curriculum will be incorporated into the software engineering curriculum during the current second semester, after exposing students to the limitations of conventional hardware for some important IT applications."

A growing class of specialised application areas, especially finance, is creating a requirement for high-speed, high-precision computing, which conventional computing hardware architectures are not able to meet effectively, Professor explained.

"High Precision finance, a major IT industry vertical, requires higher precision than what the standard IEEE-754 arithmetic available on most computing machines provides. This application has the advantage that the IT industry revenue stream is heavily based on the finance application segment. Issues such as high precision will become more and more important as we move into value added solutions," he highlighted.

Other end-use areas that have a similar requirement include multi-media and entertainment; telecommunications, and categories of embedded systems.

Through its broadened programme, IIIT-B is encouraging students to work first hand on improving accuracy and throughput of actual case applications in these areas. The basic idea is, as students begin to gauge for themselves the limits of conventional architectures, they will realise the need for developing newer architectures.

Eventually, IIIT-B will actively involve India's semiconductor design industry in the programme, to improve the practical orientation of the participants. "We will do this in a graded fashion. The initial work will be done internally in the institute, and then we can involve the whole industry. A couple of selected projects will be used as a vehicle for this work," shared Prasanna.

This initiative could help us in motivating students to learn VLSI based on the value added migration needs of the current manpower profile of the IT industry, which Prasanna characterises as a software- solutions-based industry.

Prasanna expects the programme to build a niche capability among its participants – the ability to conceptualise and design hardware implementations for select application areas, when standard software implementations do not provide the desired level of performance for those areas. About 30-50 fresh graduates will pass through this programme in the initial year.

- - Krishnan Sivaramakrishnan  
EE Times India

  EE Times India

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