Some advice about Analog IC Design

Discussion in 'Analog & Mixed-Signal Design' started by screen1988, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. screen1988

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 7, 2013
    Hi everyone,
    I am starting to study about Analog IC Design. My knowledge is very basic and I am learning through Design of Analog CMOS integrated Circuits by Behzad Razavi. I am intending to attend the online courses by MIT bellow:
    1. MITx: 8.02x Electricity and Magnetism
    2. BerkeleyX: CS191x Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation
    I don't have much experience and I feel a bit confused to decide what I should to learn and what not.
    Could anyone share me your opinions about these courses and what I should learn to become a good engineer in this field?
    If possible, can you suggest me some books that I must/should read to understand and good at Analog IC Design?
  2. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    I don't know, just based on the titles, that either of those on-line courses are going to help much specifically with analog IC design. But you will almost certainly learn some useful concepts that you will be able to apply somewhere sometime.

    I've never actually taken an IC design course. I got into IC design in an accidental kind of way and then spend the best part of two decades doing it, learning as I went. As a result, I tended to learn those specific aspects that were relevant to the kind of lunatic fringe designs we did and not much else. Consequently, I have a lot of detailed knowledge about some pretty esoteric issues and some pretty big holes in some of the more common, run-of-the-mill issues.

    If you really want to be an analog design engineer, then start building and playing with analog circuits on your own. Don't worry about trying to do IC design -- the bulk of the issues you need to learn about are the same whether you are using discrete components or putting it on a chip. To be sure, the design strategies -- the specific techniques you use to address an issue - are different between the two worlds, but the issues themselves are largely the same.

    Learn about transistor amplifier design and about the different kinds of noise and how you spec it and how you measure it and how you design for it and how you analyze a design for it. Learn the terminology and the concepts so that you can follow and participate in discussions.
    screen1988 likes this.
  3. screen1988

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 7, 2013
    Thank for sharing your experience, WBahn!
    If possible, could you recommend some good books about this field?
    The e-book in the forum is very good but there are many sections that are incomplete and are pending.
  4. PaulDouble

    New Member

    Mar 18, 2013
    I studied Physical Electronics which gave me a great background into device physics, but I felt I didn't know enough about practical circuit design, so I think both are important. As great book on the subject is Analog Design Essentials by Willy M.C. Sansen, a real guru of analog design. ISBN-10 0-387-25746-2.
    I now sell Analog IC Design tools so obviously I am bias when I say you can get a really good intro into IC Design, with a free DOS program to play with, by getting hold of the book by John P. Uyemura entitled Physical Design of CMOS Integrated Circuits Using L-Edit. ISBN 0-534-94326-8.
    There are nowhere near enough good analog designers in the world, so I'm sure you'll find this a great career choice, highly stimulating intellectually and I wish you all the best in your studies. Cheers, Paul.
    screen1988 likes this.
  5. toffee_pie

    Senior Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Analog IC deign is a field where companies unfortunately want people with experience, i cant see anyone taking courses from the web with much interest. I have a MSC in microelectronics and have done the IC design thing in labs.

    You need to be good with all the mosfet equations, and things like VLSI design etc.

    and put all that into practice with cadence or whatever.

    it is a good field though. :)
    screen1988 likes this.
  6. Jaguarjoe

    Active Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill is a very good book. It's a bit dated, but almost everything in it is applicable today. It starts with the very basic stuff and grows from there. It is extremely well written so it's not dry like books on the subject are.
    You can get paperback editions for about $25 or so on Amazon.

    You should get a breadboard and some batteries or a power supply and start experimenting. Electronix Express has a trainer for about $115. I think it's a PAD134, it has lots of features built in.
    screen1988 likes this.
  7. screen1988

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 7, 2013
    Thanks you all for your helps.
    I have The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill but it isn't easy for me to follow because my knowledge is very basic.
    @Jaguarjoe: Could you tell me how can I buy the kit? I have searched but I fail.
  8. ramancini8

    Active Member

    Jul 18, 2012
    The advice given here is right on. You should get experience designing analog circuits before applying for a IC designers job. Let me warn you; IC design can get boring fast, that is why I never persued a career there although I had numerous offers in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Being confined to an office with a workstation never appealed to me.

    Some old books you might buy are transistor circuit design books by Fitchen, Joyce and Clark, volumes 3,4,5, and 6 of the Semiconductor Electronics Education Committe series, Cowles, Millman and Taub, Howard Berlin. Take the advice given here and design circuits to specifications, test them, and then ask this web site why the calculations and test results don't always match. I learmed more about circuit design in the lab than I did from a book, but I had a good solid education to start from. I spent 15 years writing app notes, magazine columns, a book, magazine articles, and seminars, and I traveled the world giving seminars all based on what I learned in the lab. What you learn in a book can be learned by anybody with the price of the book, but what you learn in the lab is precious because 99% of the people won't work hard enough to repeat your work.
  9. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    You should also become proficient with Spice circuit simulation since (virtually) all serious analog designers use that to help in the design process. It's great for spotting design errors and helping to optimize the design, making it easy to try out different approaches before you do the circuit breadboard. LTspice from Linear Technology is probably the best free spice program available. It has a somewhat steep learning curve but is well worth the effort. It has a good tutorial to get you started.

    You can start with simulating simple resistor, capacitor, and inductor circuits to become familiar with the program, and then go to more complex active circuits.