Monday, October 5, 2009

Chip Market Outlook

The last quarter of this year is important for those who want to start their career in the semiconductor industries. If you are planning to do any career oriented VLSI course, do it now and make yourself ready when the semiconductor companies start recruiting candidates in the beginning of 2010.

Take a look on the chip market outlook. You can understand why I am suggesting you to act fast.

Chip market outlook for 2010 and beyond:

* 2010: +19 percent based on: continuing recovery momentum (NB … this could be a lot, lot higher).

* 2011: +28 percent based on: peak of the structural cyclical boom (NB … this could stretch into 2012).

* 2012: +18 percent based on: normal cyclical market correction starting 2H-2012 (1H-2013?).

* 2013: +3 percent based on: market correction in full flow (NB … this could be negative).

The year 2014 could well see the start of the next cyclical recovery! Given the impending 2010 fab shortage, the upside for 2010-12 is said to be huge.


Smart people always make wise and timely decisions. So be smart and do the VLSI course in the best VLSI training institute. It's very simple to identify the best VLSI training institutes. Search for "VLSI Training" in Google ... It will show you the best institutes in the first page and the best one often comes in the first place. Are you smart?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Interviews - Are they nightmares?

Generally I write blogs based on my experiences. This time I am writing this blog based on the bad experience of an young engineer in the interview. In this blog I would like to share some of the guidelines usually interviewers follow during the interview process and explain the main objective of the interview process.

If you think that interviews are the nightmares and interviewers usually harass the interviewees, you are wrong. Interviewers are the brand ambassadors of their organizations. Organizations choose the interviewer very carefully. Usually the organizations choose the experienced technical guys who really know how to extract the best out of a person.

The main objective of interview is to identify the right candidate for the job, not to disrupt the confidence of the interviewee .

Some of the guidelines that interviewers usually follow during the interview process are :

[1] Make the candidate very comfortable - usually we talk about general things like hobbies, climate, travelling experiences etc. This makes the candidate to feel as if he is talking to a well known person.

[2] Explain about organization’s business and culture and the job - We do this mainly to impress the candidate and motivate him to try for the job willingly

[3] Allow candidate to explain and interact more - Do not talk too much about your experiences and achievements. Allow the candidate to explain about his achievements and understand how he is different from others.

[4] Find the best candidate - Do not compete with candidate. He may be smarter than you ... why not? Accept it... and help the organization to find a person who is smarter than you. This is the reason why organizations always choose SMART interviewers

[5] Mind your behavior - Smile, be polite and help the candidate to project himself in the best way. Usually good interviewers provide lot of suggestions, especially to solve the technical puzzles and find out how the candidate performs.

I still remember, when I was waiting at the reception for an interview, the VP of that company came personally and received me. He opened the main door and invited me for the interview. I felt at that moment that I want to work for that organization.

Do not worry about the odd experiences that you had with some immature organizations. Its natural, you will always have some bad experiences in your life. It does not mean that the complete world is lethal ... Forget about the bad experiences, make yourself ready for the next interview.

Mahatma Gandhi said, " Nobody can hurt me without my permission ". That's what strong people do in their life. So, Why don't you ...

Monday, April 6, 2009

How long with first job?

There is no hard and fast rule that defines how long you should stay at first job. But it’s good to stay in your first organization at least for minimum 3 years and gain the skill sets. Your first job helps you to understand many things, what's organization, business process, team work, customer's expectations, meeting deadlines, performance reviews, technology, product development cycle, TTM etc.

Many of the fresher focus only on technology and they are very keen on improving their technical skills. Once they gain the technical skills and project experience, they immediately plan to change the organization for small benefits. But they fail to understand that one must understand the complete business process to grow further and reach senior positions.

At senior level postions, one needs to own the complete product development [RTL/Verification/Synthesis/DFT] or business process and drive the team to achieve the business objectives. Staying in an organization for a considerable time helps you to gain the confidence and take the ownership.

I have seen some people who stay in the company for more than 10 years also. Why you really need to change the organization when you can learn, earn and grow fast? People want to stay at good organizations that care about the employee growth.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

VLSI Design Flow

Chip design process goes through various transformations and get you the final product. One needs to understand all the steps of the VLSI design flow when he begins his career in any semiconductor industry.

Product Specification
This is a detailed document that defines the product functionality and features. It’s a golden reference to the complete design team. Let us say you are designing mobile chip. The spec of this chip has the details like, tele conference, email support, audio and video, built-in camera, games, etc.


Design team drafts one more document called design specification before capturing the Register Transfer Level logics in HDLs. This design specification has all the details that are needed for the hardware design, such as design architecture, RTL block diagram, clock frequency, waveforms, clock domain details, port details, design partition details etc.

One can't easily become RTL designer just by learning HDLs. You need to learn RTL coding style from the experienced designers.

Verification team drafts an another document called verification plan. This verification plan have all the details needed for the verification, such as TB architecture, coverage models, list of key features to be verified etc. In this verification process, RTL functionality is simulated and verified whether it behaves as per the product specification.

Most of the ASIC re-spins are due to the functional bugs. Verification process is not yet completely automated and its more time consuming than the design implementation process. 70% of the design cycle time is consumed by the verification.

Refer my blog Verification Sigin-off at

The verified RTL is synthesized into Gate Level Netlist. This process is completely automated with the help of EDA tools. But still one needs to be good at HDL based design implementation to understand the reports generated by the Synthesizer and explain to the design team about the synthesis related issues.


Place and Route

The netlist is basically a list of primitives. All the primitives are placed and connected to form the chip layout. The P&R process is also completely automated. But still one needs to understand the tool very well and try different routing algorithms to implement the design effectively on to the chip.


The P&R process produces a binary file as output. This binary data will be used to configure the FPGA. The configured FPGA implements the design functionality.

Finally the routed netlist that is called as GDS-II will be sent to the foundry that manufactures the chip as per the technology requirement

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Challenge the Economic Recession

Everybody is scared of this economic recession. Industries are not doing well in this downturn. Most of the industries stopped recruiting even experienced engineers. Newspaper stories of Layoffs and Pink Slips threaten us further.

How are you going to face this industry downturn?

I am sure you will try sincerely to get into industry. You will keep on applying to the companies. But in this situation industries might hesitate to consider fresher. If this continues for some time, you would get frustrated and lose your confidence. You may even start thinking of changing your career too. I am not trying to threaten you by exaggerating the current situation. It's natural and the market condition always goes through peaks and slowdowns in a cyclic fashion. So you can't do anything just by worrying about the economic recession. You should plan very carefully how to face it.

Do you want to be idle till this situation becomes normal?

Time is GOLD. I suggest you to utilize this time very usefully. Do some specialized trainings and increase your skill sets. But you need to choose the training institution very carefully. Find out, whether they are really capable of guiding you to do the industry standard projects on your own. The projects that you do will increase the value of your resume. This way you can make yourself ready and face the interviews when the industries start recruiting.

Be positive. Challenge this economic down turn and show to this world who you are... All the best!

You can reach me directly at for any help or information that you may require regarding VLSI career,VLSI training institutions etc ..

Monday, February 2, 2009

What is SystemVerilog?

Let us first understand what is Systemverilog [SV]. SV is not something like a brand new hardware verification language. It's built on top of Verilog HDL. All the Verilog language constructs seamlessly work with SV and vice-versa. In common man terms, one can say SystemVerilog is the latest version of Verilog HDL.

Why we need this language?
Basically HDLs are meant for RTL description of the design and they are not good for verification. Some engineers wrongly assume that Verilog is good for verification and VHDL is good for RTL. Actually both HDLs lack many constructs that you need for complex chip level verification.

Usually verification engineers use Hardware Verification Languages [HVLs] like e, Vera to implement the testbenches. RTL designers use HDLs , Verilog or VHDL for the design implementation and SVA/PSL for the assertions. So one needs to learn multiple languages to manage the complete front-end design process.

SystemVerilog is the language that supports everything you need for RTL implementation and verification as well. Being an SV expert, one can easily become front-end designer/verification engineer.

You can directly reach me at to know more about SystemVerilog ... VLSI training institutions etc .

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why you need to learn SystemVerilog?

In VLSI industries, everybody talks about SystemVerilog [SV]. We also find lot of job opportunities for the verification engineers who have working knowledge in SV. Students also look out for the VLSI design courses that focus more on verification and SV. They also strongly believe that SV knowledge is highly needed to get into industries.

Why so much noise about SystemVerilog? What is happening in the verification world?

I still remember, few years back everybody was talking about the hardware verification language 'e' and Specman. Industries used to search for the strings "e" and "Specman" in the resume. Cadence also acquired Versity to increase their market share in the verification. But now the VLSI industries are moving towards SV and migrating their legacy testbenches from the proprietary HVLs and HDLs to SV.

This change in the verification community clearly indicates that you always need to update yourself on the latest technology to maintain your market value, whether you are a student or an experienced verification engineer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are you getting enough interview calls?

You registered in most of the prominent job portals and floated your resume. You are sincerely tracking all the news paper advertisements and applying for at least 5-10 jobs every day. But not getting any interview calls. This clearly indicates something wrong with your resume. You should know how to build your resume.

Let us first understand why most of the fresher are not getting interview calls.

Average Academic Record
You may not be able to attract the selectors just by showing your average marks. You may have good record on extracurricular activities and sports but that might help only during the final HR interview. You have to do something extra to make your resume more valuable.

Lack of information about industries
You have excellent academic record, but still not getting interview calls. You really need to understand how to project your knowledge in the technology that has huge demand and attract the interviewers.

Economic Recession
Industries stopped recruiting even experienced engineers. They do lay-offs too. In tough situations, you really need to spend your time usefully to build your skill sets.

I can list out many reasons why you are not getting interview calls. But if you understand some of the basic things that I outlined here have serious impact on getting calls, you could rewrite your fate by making your resume distinct.

You can't make your resume distinct and valuable just by adding more information and formatting it with colorful fonts and bullets. You have to build your resume. Do some home work. Find out what industries expect from fresher. Improve your knowledge and skills based on the job opportunities. Add the new skill sets in your resume.

I would like to provide some suggestions to make your resume valuable and distinct.

- Make your resume simple and well formatted. It should be 2-4 pages maximum.
If you are a fresher, maximum 2 pages enough.
- Summarize your knowledge and skills at the beginning of your resume.
- Find out which technology has so much demand and what industry people expect from you. Learn those things and add it in your resume.
- Do some specialized courses and increase the value of your resume by adding new projects and technology.
- Interact with experienced people and find out which technology has huge demand.
- Inform very clearly what you are currently doing.
- You can have different kinds of resume based on the industry type. This helps you to attract them by projecting the information that they are looking for. But only few variations are enough.
- Be honest. Make sure that your resume is 100% genuine.
- Take the help of HR consultants/Head hunters to format your resume.

Simple idea, Search for good resumes in Google. Why don't you follow the same template, if it impresses you at the first sight?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nuts and Bolts of Technical Interviews

Are you what you perform during the interviews? Except few, many fresh engineers fail to impress the interviewer. I would say they fail because they are not sure how to sell themselves. If you want to sell yourself and get the job, you should know what industry people expect from you.

Let us look at some of the important things that influence the final result of the interview and get you the job.

If you want to sell any product, you need to share good information with the consumers. Usually people use brochures for the same. Similarly your resume is your brochure that highlights your skill sets, knowledge, interest etc.Your resume creates first impression and gets you the interview call.
Nobody knows who you are. Industries will approach you, if they really find your resume impressive. It should highlight the knowledge and skills sets that they are looking for.
Do some homework. Find out what industries are looking for. You need to gain skills and knowledge to make your resume valuable. This will help you to differentiate from others

-Make your resume well formatted, simple and distinct.
- Make sure that what you claim is actually you are.
If you have no knowledge on any particular technology, do not mention it in your resume.
- You need to be precise on highlighting your skills.
For example, you can say "I am good on Verilog, very good on Digital and worked extensively on UART project”. Interviewer will ask questions based on this information. He will ask basic questions from Verilog, advanced concepts from digital but he will try to understand how you did UART. He will ask you to draw the block diagram, waveforms and expects you to explain the operation in detail.

Communication Skill
Language is like your dress. You look great on good dress. Improve your language.

- Learn how to introduce yourself
- You should know how to explain the concepts clearly
For example, you can use pens and papers to draw the waveforms, block diagrams etc. I have seen many fresher explaining the waveforms in words
- Don't talk too much unnecessarily and show your language skills, if you are trying for technical positions.

Listening skill
Actually listening is part of effective communication. You can't give correct answer if you don’t listen to the question.

- Listen sincerely. Don't pretend that you are listening.
- Don’t go on mute, just for the sake of listening.

Planning and Preparation
Understand that interviewer will ask questions based on your resume. So make sure that you know everything that you highlighted in your resume. You need to plan very carefully on answering some of the HR questions too.

Sample HR type questions
- Why you want to be a chip designer? But you said you like C programming.
- Why you did not score much in your engineering course?

- Be natural and honest while answering to HR questions. You should really know how to display your positive attitude.

Small Things
Small things make big difference. Always remember this.

- Be on time. Good to be in formal dress
- Smile at the interviewer
- Be honest. If you don’t know, say 'I don’t know' but express it in positive way.
- Learn how to approach and solve the technical puzzle.
Don’t say blindly you don't know the answer. Try sincerely. Most of the interviewers will be very keen on your approach on solving the problems. They will also provide clues.
- Learn how to motivate/attract the interviewer towards your technical strengths
For example, if interviewer keeps on digging the information that you don't know. Say “Sorry sir I am not sure about this stuff but I am extremely good at the other thing that you are looking for".
- Analyze your personality and understand your strengths and weakness.

It’s very difficult for me to summarize everything that one needs to know to crack through the technical interview process. But I would say if you follow the basic things that I mentioned here and practice properly, you can get through it very easily. To practice, you can take up some mock-up interviews and few real ones.

Sachin Tendulkar also fails on the cricket field and sometimes scores ducks too. But he makes sure that he scores century in the next match. Approach your life like Sachin. You need to face the real interviews and learn from your mistakes. I did the same.

All the best !

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

VLSI Vs Software

When your friends talk about any chip design course, you might think it’s for ECE/EEE engineers and not for CSE/IT engineers who want to become great software programmers. If you are a CSE/IT engineer, you probably move away from that discussion.

If you have an assumption that VLSI design course is only for the electronics engineers, you really need to change your mind set. A good C/C++ programmer who has good knowledge in digital fundamentals can easily become a verification engineer. You will be excited when you understand how we really verify the complex chips. Let me brief how we make use of the software concepts to verify the chip.

Hardware designers use Hardware Description Language [HDL] for designing the chips. But the verification engineers use Hardware Verification Languages [HVL] for verifying the chips. Testbench is the program that generates stimuli to the design and verifies the functionality of the same. Trust me, writing HVL based testbench is very similar to C++ programming.

At present SystemVerilog is the standard HVL that is becoming prominent in the verification world. This language is completely based on object oriented programming [OOP] concepts. We verification engineers use all the software concepts like Object Oriented Programming, Polymorphism, and Inheritance etc. to architect the testbenches.

Software execution is completely sequential but hardware programs execute concurrently too. Hardware designers always think in terms of digital logics like flip-flops, multiplexors, etc. Their programming style is entirely different from software programming. One needs to have verification mind set and think like a software programmer to write effective testbenches. So industries prefer software engineers to verify the complex chips, especially for writing the testbenches using latest verification technologies.

You can refer my blog "Functional Verification" at to explore more on verification concepts and technologies.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

VLSI Trainings

Today I am working in a leading EDA industry because of the VLSI design course that I did 8 years back. After finishing my engineering course in 1997, I was working in an engineering industry as a electrical engineer for more than three years. I was not happy about my 'Market Value' and life status and I decided to change my field. I did *PG Diploma inVLSI Design* and got into an VLSI design company. These kind of certified courses are very effective and they change your life too. But one should know how to choose the right VLSI institution and evaluate the worth of the course.

There are so many VLSI institutions offer VLSI design courses in India. Many educational institutions are also into this business. I am not going to rate them. But I would say most of the VLSI institutions are charging heavily and they don’t justify for the same. Here I am highlighting some of the important points that one needs to consider when he chooses the VLSI training institution.

*Course contents:
Please understand that VLSI is not Verilog/VHDL or EDA tools. Course should focus mainly on VLSI design fundamentals, design and verification methodologies and ASIC and FPGA flows. More importantly, it should teach what industries need.

Many of the institutions teach what they know. I would say they simply dump you with all the stuff that they have. Ask few questions and understand the worth of their course.

Sample Questions:
- Are you teaching how to architect the design?
- Can you just brief me about the lab exercises?
- How many days theory and labs?
- Can you differentiate your course from others?
- Please brief about the latest technologies that you are imparting.

Find out the background of faculties that are imparting the course. Experienced engineers who work in the VLSI industries are the right people.

Sample Questions:
- Can you please tell me who is going to teach all the subjects?
- Can you tell me who created the course contents?

*Training methodology/style:
Trainer should explain the concepts by providing the real time examples. Course should be more hands-on and less theoretical. They should follow industry standards for the projects.

* Projects:
The projects that you would be doing as part of the course are the key things. This increases the value of your resume. You can easily differentiate yourself from others by doing industry standard projects. By doing the project, one should be able to understand the complete project cycle and how we can tape out the design as a team.

*Personality Development:
Candidates should be trained and well prepared to face the interviews. Many institutions don't do this. I feel many fresh engineers don’t know how to face the interviews. You know, at the end of the day you should know how to sell yourself and get the job.

*Guest Lectures:
This helps the students to interact with the industrial experts and assimilate the concepts clearly.

*EDA tools:
EDA tools are highly needed to explore what you learn. But it does not mean that you need all EDA tools from all EDA vendors. Some institutions use EDA tools from all the EDA vendors blindly and charge the candidates heavily. Exposure to EDA tools usage is a plus but in industries we do not select candidates based on his EDA tool skills. We focus more on fundamentals and concepts.

It should provide good learning environment with adequate hardware and software.

You really need to get through the written exam and impress the interviewer during face2face interview. To achieve this, all you need is good knowledge and hands-on experience in VLSI. So don't go behind popular VLSI training institutions and certified courses blindly. None of the VLSI industries care about the certificates and institutions.

You can directly reach me at for any more help/information. All the best ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

VLSI Job Opportunities

VLSI means Very Large Scale Integration. It’s all about Integrated Circuit[IC] design. Usually we call it as *Chip design*. Anyone who is planning to start his career in the semiconductor industry needs to have better understanding of the jobs and growth opportunities in the VLSI domain.

What's special about VLSI?
VLSI field is highly technical and completely based on electronics engineering. Only electronics engineers can get into the semiconductor industries because it requires minimum BE *Only ECE/EEE* as a basic qualification. But still CSE/IT engineers can also try for some specific jobs, with good knowledge in digital fundamentals and software programming.

Though VLSI is treated as hardware design, VLSI engineers design the chips using special hardware description languages [HDL] like Verilog and VHDL, as software programmers. Software industries mainly look for your IQ and programming skills. They do not differentiate candidates based on their knowledge in their engineering domain.

In VLSI domain, if you are really passionate of electronics engineering, you would perform well and grow fast. It’s very easy to differentiate yourself from others because you are competing only with the other electronics engineer.

There are plenty of job opportunities in the semiconductor industries. One needs to have better understanding of the job titles and job profiles. More importantly, one should know about his/her strengths of their personal attribute and choose the right job accordingly. Let us look at the various job opportunities in the VLSI industries.

Design Engineer - Mainly responsible for the design implementation.
You need to be technically sound. This job does not demand high interpersonal skills but still you need to be effective on communicating your ideas.

Design kinds
ASIC - Application Specific Integrated Circuit design
FPGA - Field Programmable Gate Arrays
AMS - Analog Mixed Signal design
DFT - Design For Test
Custom Designs - Transistor level
PCB - Board Design

JOB Titles
Front-end designer - ASIC/FPGA
Back-end designer
AMS designer
DFT engineer
PCB designer - Board design
Library developer

Verification Engineer - Verifies the design and makes sure that the design works properly.Huge demand for this position because 70% of the projects in India are the verification projects.

You need to be extremely good at programming.
If you like software programming/coding/scripting, this job is good for you. Still you should update yourself on latest technologies.

Verification kinds
Front-end verification - simulation
Acceleration/Emulation - Validation
Hardware Software co-verification
Product validation - Validating the EDA tools
Behavioral Modeling - modeling the design
Verification IP implementation - TB developers

JOB Titles
Front-end verification engineers
Validation engineers
Modeling engineers
Verification Consultants

CAD Engineer - Mainly responsible for managing the license and EDA tools
Evaluates EDA solutions and methodologies
Integrates various EDA tools and develops flow
You need to know how to interact with others. This job demands good interpersonal skills. You should always update yourself on the latest technologies and methodologies.

Application Engineer - Interface between the R&D and customers, Promotes EDA solutions
You need to know how to interact with others. This job demands good interpersonal skills and lot of traveling. If you feel that you are highly communicative, good presenter, good at building relationships and good at technologies etc., you are the right candidate for this job.

JOB Titles
Field Application Engineer - Pre-sales
Corporate Application Engineer - Post-sales
Application Consultants

Marketing & Sales - Promotes the brand and sells the products.

A good application engineer can easily become marketing or sales executive, if he has interest on sales.

I have just outlined the personal attributes that are highly required for these jobs. But it does not mean that only these attributes are enough to get into the industry and perform well. If you really want to differentiate yourself from others and perform outstandingly, you need to be a good team player, flexible, knowledgeable, hard working, positive and energetic, irrespective of the work/job that you do.