Tools And Equipment You Need For A Microelectronics Center

We continue our discussion on how Africa can build a world class microelectronics training and research institute (MTRI). Today, we look at tools and equipment necessary to establish such a lab or center.

The equipment and computer systems will be installed in the related rooms. This will involve some computer networking since all the systems must be networked. Some of these schools  already has many computer systems which can be used for MTRI. Nonetheless, MTRI will purchase some servers and high-end computers to run some of the CADs which will be installed.

Fabrication Services: MTRI will be designing on AMI 0.5-micron CMOS process technology because of its leverage costs of fabrication. MTRI will have a cleanroom for its MEMS programs and use MOSIS ( for the chips. Other systems which would be purchased are:

–                      MUMPs Cronos (Surface Micromachining)

–                       Rapid Prototyping Boards (Xilinx FPGA)

–                       DSP Platforms (PIC, SX-48 microcontrollers)

–                      Altium/Protel PCB CAD

Workstations: 44 high-end Linux-Windows Combo computers.  These computers will have high speed and memory to enable usage of the CAD tools. Four of these computers will be used as servers for messaging/Internet proxy serve and CAD server. The other 40 will be licensed for CAD applications for design and development. While it is possible to use these schools old systems, these ones are required because of the special requirement of the CADs. These 44 machines are subsets of the 100 budgeted for lab room.

There will be additional 10 Tape Back-Up Systems and HP storage system to backup all students’ works on real time as well as store some vital Institute documents and digital infrastructure.

Test Systems: The following tools and equipment will be purchased to enable the testing and measurements of designed chips.

  • 8 computers to be installed with Matlab for data collection and analyses

• Other major equipment (they would be used for chip testing and measurement)

– 3/6 GHz Signal Generators—this would be used for generating test signals

–  Network Analyzers –this would be used to testing networking sequences on chip

–  Logic Analyzer – this would be used to test output chip for digital signals

–  Spectrum Analyzers – this will be used for noise analysis and spectrum measurement

–  Function/logic generators- this will generate different signals, like sine, pulses for test purposes

–  50 GHz Sampling Scopes – these are fast oscilloscopes for signal measurement and validation

–  Power Meters- this measures the power output in chips

– Probe Stations- we need the probe station for chip characterization and testing

– Microwave Probe Sets- this will be used for the RF systems testing

– SMUs test boards- these are used for easy prototyping and testing

– PCB Test Fixtures- these are used for prototyping

-High-Speed (RF) IC Test system- this test structure is designed for high RF system; good for telecoms

– NIDAC Card for data capture; this is the data acquisition card for obtaining signals from chips

– Microscopes- these are used for micro-soldering on SMU parts,

– Soldering stations- this is a high caliber soldering station

– Heat chambers- for the test of our bandgap references

– Bundles of chips for testing- there are some chips needed to test other chips; eg. ADC, DAC, etc

– each of oscilloscopes, voltage regulators, power supplies – this include the regulator, power supplie, and scopes


Design Tools:

MTRI will obtain 10 user licenses for CADENCE ( and 40 for Tanner ( Presently, these CADs are given at ridiculously discounted prices. While Cadence runs on Linux, Tanner runs on Windows. Other design tools to be purchased are:

High Level Synthesis (FPGA/CPLD):                                              Xilinx ISE

High level simulation (VHDL, Verilog, HDL:                                  Hamster, Xilinx III

MEMS (MEMS, design & simulation)                                              SUGAR, NODAS

PCB (Printed circuit board)                                                   PCB Express/Altium

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