Dr. Rhett Davis

Dr. Rhett Davis

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Phone: 919-515-5857
Fax: 919-515-2285
Instructor Website
Research Website

ECE 546 VLSI Design Systems

3 Credit Hours

Digital systems design in CMOS VLSI technology: CMOS devise physics, fabrication, primitive components, design and layout methodology, integrated system architectures, timing, testing future trends of VLSI technology.


Completion of  Microelectronics (NC State ECE 302) or an equivalent is required in order to register for this course. This requirement assumes that students have a basic knowledge of BJT and MOS field-effect transistors, IV characteristics, circuit models, SPICE analysis (including basic UNIX commands), single-stage transistor amplifiers (single-ended and differential-pair), calculations of small signal voltage gain, input resistance and output resistance. Students not fulfilling this requirement may register with the permission of the instructor.

Course Objectives

  • By the end of this course, you should be able to do the following: Create transistor-level circuit-schematics and mask-layout for digital integrated circuits.
  • Analyze these circuits with hand calculations to predict their performance in terms of delay, area, and power dissipation.
  • Optimize the performance of a circuit.
  • Design circuits in a variety of different logic families: Static CMOS, Dynamic CMOS, Ratioed Logic.
  • Design complex systems containing a variety of blocks: random logic, integer arithmetic, and memories.
  • Analyze the first-order effects of complex and emerging trends in VLSI technology, including crosstalk and variability.
  • Use state-of-the art computer-aided design (CAD) tools to layout, simulate and verify your circuits.
  • Work in diverse teams on a complex project.

Course Requirements

Your grade will be based upon:

  • one midterm exam (20%)
  • final exam (20%)
  • module quizzes (2%)
  • homework (18%) broken down as follows:
    • Average of Peer Grades (16%)
    • Assessment Grade (2%)
  • project (40%) broken down as follows:
    • Correctness of Milestone #1 (2%)
    • Correctness of Milestone #2 (3%)
    • Correct Operation of Final Design (10%)
    • Physical Verification of Final Design (5%)
    • Documentation (Final Report) (10%)
    • Performance (5%)
    • Partner Assessment (5%)


[DigIC] Digital Integrated Circuits: A Design Perspective, 2nd Edition by Rabaey, Chandrakasan, and Nikolic, Prentice Hall, 2003.

[LPDE] Low Power Design Essentials by Jan Rabaey, Springer, 2009, Available Online at

Other recommended texts: CMOS VLSI Design: A Circuits and Systems Perspective, 3rd Edition by Weste and Harris, Addison Wesley, 2005.

Computer and Software Requirements

Please review minimum computer specifications recommended by NC State University and Engineering Online.

Updated 11/08/2022