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How to pursue processor/memory design

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by LuciferNext, Nov 18, 2018.

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  1. LuciferNext

    LuciferNext

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    Nov 18, 2018
    I am a sophomore (Electrical Engineering) in IIT Delhi. Halfway through the year(end of the third semester), I have developed interest in designing of processors/memories. Till now, I practically haven't learnt much apart from the operating physics of MOSFETs(not much about applications) and some basic signal processing and data structures and algorithms. I am confused as to how I should pursue my interest. I need to know what kind of courses I should take upon, what kind of projects I should try to do and other relevant things to learn deep about this and pursue a career.

    My aim is to get into designing of processors and memories for building better computers. I have a basic knowledge of Machine Learning and I prefer the involvement of machine learning in whatever I work on.

    My confusion is :
    What courses should I essentially choose? (Basically, what are the broad topics I need to start learning about). I have certain things in mind like a basic course on VLSI Design, CMOS circuit design, Computer Architecture and basic courses on Digital/Analog Electronics. Please suggest more courses if needed, rather any suggestion you have in this matter.
    It would be very helpful if you guide me with the abovementioned thing as I need to take up courses and projects for the upcoming semester within a week.
     
  2. BobK

    BobK

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    Jan 5, 2010
    I am retired from Intel. They design processors and memories there. Well, not so much design processors, as design the next iteration to improve the throughput and reduce the power used. The team of engineers that does this iterative design is about 1000 people. And that does not include the software people like me.

    No one deals with high level architecture and also designs the actual MOSFET circuits on the chips. There are probably 5 or 6 layers of design in between.

    In other words, wanting to design processors and memories is way too broad a category.

    It is good to have a broad base of knowledge, but, be aware, you are unlikely to use most of it in your future career. You will navigate a path that makes you more and more specialized, learning in depth what you need to do your part of the design, and forgetting most of what you learned in the courses that are not relevant to it.

    That said, it is too early for you to decide what specialty you would want to pursue. So, a broad education like you have outlined is a good idea at this point.

    Also, be aware that, at the higher levels of design, you will not go near any actual hardware. You will be sitting at a computer using software and simulation for all of you work. So, maybe you should be thinking about whether you want that kind of a job, or one that actually deals with real hardware and test equipment.

    Bob
     
    hevans1944 and Harald Kapp like this.
  3. LuciferNext

    LuciferNext

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    Nov 18, 2018
    Thank you very much. So you are suggesting I take up the basic relevant courses and wait for things to gradually unravel.
     
  4. BobK

    BobK

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    Jan 5, 2010
    Yep, that is the way it is likely to go anyway. Your interests and opportunities will evolve over time.

    One thing I might add. I would learn to design with FPGAs. These allow you to design processors that do not require the insane level of performance of an Intel or Arm processor all inside a single chip, giving you the full range of design levels excluding the actual chip design.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
    hevans1944 likes this.
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