VLSI and Digital System Design Laboratory

ECE 10-Node Cluster

With the help of a $15,000 donation from Cypress Semiconductor's Mississippi Design Center, the VLSI and DSD laboratory renovation is underway. Greater performance and compatibility with student-owned computer resources are just two of the advantages for ECE. A ten-processor Linux-based server will speed simulation and design software, enhancing student productivity. Students will be able to use their laptops both in the lab and at home with the new computing resources. In the future measurement instrumentation will be added to the laboratory to provide a complete environment for design, simulation, and experimentation.

In an industry synonymous with cutting edge technology, Cypress's designers are among the most technologically progressive. This association has been helpful in insuring that students are exposed to proper design tools and hardware resources. For many years, MSU supported commercial VLSI and Digital CAD tools running on Sun Microsystems workstations. This gave students the advantage of experiencing authentic design conditions they would see in industry. As we have seen commodity PC hardware has become very cost and performance competitive, specialized VLSI CAD software is now becoming Linux compatible. In consultation with Cypress, ADTRAN, and DTI we began exploring the details of moving to commodity PC technology and the Linux operating system in earnest in late spring. With conference calls and visits we were ready to take steps that would improve CAD tool performance and reduce recurring equipment upgrade cost. That's when Cypress stepped in and provided the necessary seed money to cover a remote Linux server or "Linux Farm" of 10 commodity PCs and other lab computing equipment.

Workstations in CAD Lab

The MSU Electrical and Computer Engineering program and the Cypress Mississippi Design Center have been linked since the start. As a founding director of Cypress Southeast in 1987, ECE faculty member Don Trotter, provided a link between Cypress Semiconductor of San Jose, CA and the ECE integrated circuit program at MSU. Don's experience and connections in Silicon Valley before coming back to MSU proved to be key. In fact, the initial location of Cypress Mississippi Design Center was the fourth floor of the Simrall. Now in its 17th year, the Cypress Mississippi Design Center continues to be a source of opportunity and a friend of the department. Bob Reese, Chair of the ECE Computer Emphasis Group and the CPE Steering Committee notes that "since that time, many MSU ECE graduates have joined Cypress Mississippi and have enjoyed productive careers. In the past, Cypress Mississippi has been extremely supportive of VLSI education within ECE via participation in the ERC industrial fellowship program, sponsorship of the Cypress Professorship, guest lecturers, and an active graduate co-op program. We are extremely grateful for this support, as it has enabled us to build an excellent VLSI program."