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.
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
Front-end designer - ASIC/FPGA
PCB designer - Board design
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.
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
Front-end verification engineers
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.
Field Application Engineer - Pre-sales
Corporate Application Engineer - Post-sales
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.