MSOC Course

Microelectronics for Systems on chips

Welcome to the homepage of Microelectronics for Systems on Chips, the elective course in microelectronics


Prof. Christian Piguet, René Beuchat


Winter Semester, Friday 13:15 to 17:00

Practical Information

All you need to know to join the course is some knowledge (even weak) about logic design and microprocessors.


VLSI technology allows the development of processors and memories. Significant improvements, by a factor 1000 or more, are still expected over the next 15 years. The objective of the course is to understand the influence of technology and mainly power consumption constraints on the architecture of microcontrollers, microprocessors, memories, cache memories, DSP and parallel machines. In any system on chip, memories and buses are very important for achieving speed and power consumption performances.


Chapter 1: Microelectronic Technology

  • History of microelectronics, layout and CMOS design

Chapter 2: Microelectronic Technology Evolution

  • Evolution of VLSI technologies, ITRS Roadmap predictions (2006-2020)
  • Interconnect delays, Future technologies and new circuit techniques

Chapter 3: New Design techniques

  • Adiabatic and asynchronous circuits and architectures

Chapter 4 Low-Power Systems on Chips (Part I and II)

  • Power Consumption at at High level
  • Low-power microcontrollers, RISC microprocessors and DSP porcessors
  • Low-power memories and cache memories


  • Complex dynamic SRAM memories
  • Circuit interfaces or parallel and serial buses
  • Asynchronous - synchronous processor-memory interfaces


MicroWind and Dsch

Several exercises (given at the end of chapter notes) have to be solved by a manual design at the layout (Microwind) and at transistor levels (Dsch), and then the resulting circuits have to be simulated with a very simple electrical or logic “simulator”. This very simple simulator is the analog simulator MicroWind and the gate and transistor simulator Dsch2 from the French school INSA.

There are two different tools:

  1. MicroWind, Layout Editor and Simulator
  2. Dsch2, a logical editor and simulator (gates and transistors)

It can be freely charged from the Web at the address:

The commercial site for Microwind is:


[1] D. Soudris, C. Piguet, C. Goutis, Editors of “Designing CMOS Circuits for Low-Power”, Kluwer Academic Press, October 2002

[2] Christian Piguet, Heinz Hügli, « Du zéro à l’ordinateur, une brève histoire du calcul », Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes PPUR, février 2004

[3] Christian Piguet, Editor, « Low-Power Electronics Design”, CRC Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8493-1941-2

[4] Christian Piguet, Editor, « Low-Power Processors and Systems on Chips”, CRC Press Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN 0-8493-6700-X

[5] Christian Piguet, Editor, « Low Power CMOS Circuits: Technology, Logic Design and CAD Tools”, CRC Press Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN 0-8493-9537-2