ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit. What makes this unique is the fact that it is made especially for a specific use rather than for general use. It’s customized with great care to ensure that every high-performing Bitcoin miner or a chip for digital voice recording is an Application Specific Standard product and runs as efficiently as possible.
We see that those Application Specific Standard products are the intermediary between industry standard integrated circuits and ASICs.
History of ASIC
When ASIC was first rolled out, gate array technology was used to run it. The personal computers with 8-bit ZX81 Spectrum were introduced in 1981 and these had a commercial application of gate array circuits. This was one of the first examples of how the initial ASICs used gate array technology. This was looked at as a low-cost solution aimed at handling the intricacies of computer graphics easily.
How did ASIC become so customized?
When the metal and interconnected masks were varied together, that’s when the whole customization process took place. When it was just started, Gate arrays had complexities that stretched up to thousands and thousands of gates. Soon a solution was found for it and the later versions of the arrays became more stable and generalized with polysilicon and metal being used as customizable layers and RAM elements being used as a base die.
What can you expect as an ASIC verification engineer?
- To be an ASIC verification engineer you need good skills in the engineering design and semiconductor field. If you know these two, then a high pay is guaranteed. It’s a rewarding pathway and people tend to stick to it for at least 20 years or more.
- You will need to build upon experience. You can work for different companies when you start out and skip from one to another so that when you find the job you’re looking for, you’ll have an ample amount of names under your belt.
- It’s important that you understand that this field is not easy. To be a successfully employed ASIC verification engineer who has gained an ample amount of mastery over what he does requires a lot of dedication. You don’t just run a test and do a little bit of sorting and finish by using fancy names that the common man won’t understand. It requires you to get into the depths of the entire process.
- You need to understand how internal designs related to microarchitecture work (this comes under hardware design concepts). You also need to have strong programming concepts which will help you get ahead in the design verification engineer field.
- Your critical thinking ability should be on par. You must be able to make fast decisions and think practically to an extent that you find all defects as easily as possible.
The key to success in this field is that once you get into it, become as dedicated as possible. You will face a lot of hurdles and hardships and you’ll find that many people know more than you. Don’t look at them as competition. Look at them as storehouses of knowledge and gain experience vicariously through them.