Background and Motivation

Circuits and systems design and automation are key enabling technologies in the advancement of information processing that we are enjoying today. They have provided fundamental design principles and tools empowering the exponential growth of the number of transistors on an integrated circuit chip over the past 50 years. Without innovations in micro/nano circuits and systems design and automation, it would not have been possible for billion-transistor chips to be a reality!

After five decades of growth, micro/nano circuits and systems design and automation now face some unique challenges. On one hand, we are approaching the physical limit of transistor scaling, and the golden days of exponential growth in transistor density are over. The exorbitant cost of integrated circuit fabrication and the excessive complexity of design tools make it difficult to bring design innovations to practice. On the other hand, the recent rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence applications and emerging architectures and technologies calls for more customized solutions to designing circuits and systems.

Objectives of the Workshop

This workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will assemble a diverse group of leading researchers from both academia and industry to identify future research directions in circuits and systems design and automation in response to the challenges and opportunities. It will feature plenary talks and panels as well as roundtable discussions. Collectively, the workshop attendees will explore answers to overarching questions such as

  • what are the high-risk and high-return research topics,
  • what other fields adjacent to micro/nano circuits and systems design should be aggressively pursued for highly interdisciplinary collaboration, and
  • where the research funding should come from and how it should be distributed to encourage more transformative research.

The workshop will also include a satellite event with a roundtable panel discussion on strategies to improve semiconductor foundry access to US academics. A final report, based on the deliberations of the workshop, will be produced to the government recommending future research directions.