Clearly impressed by the achievements attained by the Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI Laboratory of the University of Macau (UM) over the past decade, Mr. Tsai Ming Kai, chairman and CEO of MediaTek Inc, one of the world’s leading companies in chip design, lately paid a visit to UM to learn more about the laboratory’s advanced chip design technologies. He was warmly received by UM’s management, including Rector Wei Zhao and Vice Rector Prof. Rui Martins.
Mr. Tsai Ming Kai was accompanied by Prof. Liu Chung Laung, a world-renowned information specialist, former president of National Tsing Hua University, and an honorary doctor of UM, as well as Mr. CC Yeh, general manager of MediaTek (Shenzhen) Inc. UM Rector Wei Zhao updated visitors on the latest developments of the university, in particular the sweeping reform in teaching and research. According to statistics on journal papers released by the ISI Web of Science, the citation frequency of UM’s research papers is experiencing a continuous and substantial increase, and numbers of published academic monographs and journal papers by UM members are also on steady increase year after year, reflecting increasing international recognition of UM’s research achievements. UM will build three research bases on the new campus, and one of them will be in the field of information and electronics (that will include the Microelectronics Lab). The much bigger campus and improved facilities will certainly create better conditions for UM to make greater progress in research and will hopefully bring more opportunities and breakthroughs for UM and Macao.
No talk about UM’s research achievements in microelectronics would be complete without mentioning the “UMChip”, a microelectronic chip developed by UM Vice Rector Prof. Rui Martins with the assistance from a group of teachers and students. Microelectronic chips are a core part of many information-technology-based products from the relatively commonplace mobile phones, personal computers, video game machines and media players to the most advanced global positioning systems. The first-generation UMChip was 1.2 micrometers in size. Through more than a decade of development, the current size of UMChip has shrunk to 65 nanometers (1 micrometer = 1000 nanometers), bringing UM to the world’s forefront in the field. Indeed, UM has repeated broken world records in terms of chip size at the IEEE (The Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) International Solid State Circuit Conference (ISSCC), which is considered the Olympics in microelectronics. UM’s microelectronics research team has been maintaining close cooperation and contact with the industry in order to garner the latest knowledge, the most state-of-the-art technologies, and the most advanced experience in the field of microelectronics and also to create more job opportunities for students and enhance UM’s research profile.
Prof. Rui Martins, along with Prof. U Seng Pan, Dr. Mak Pui In and Sin Sai Weng, all of whom are core members of the microelectronics research team, updated Mr. Tsai Ming Kai on UM’s major achievements in chip technologies as well as the ongoing state key laboratory project in collaboration with Fudan University. They told Mr. Tsai that this would be the first state key laboratory in microelectronics in Guangdong province. They also disclosed the future direction of the state key laboratory.
MediaTek is a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions. After seeing UM’s achievements in the research in microelectronics Mr. Tsai marvelled: “The fact that compared with many universities UM’s overall investment in analogue IC design is much less, with mostly local development, makes the university’s current achievements all the more impressive. It is very hard to find really qualified analogue IC designers worldwide. In Taiwan, although thousands of students graduate from this field every year, only 20 to 30 of them are really qualified. So the industry is looking for qualified designers in China. Unfortunately, the situation in China is quite similar. Despite the large number of graduates in the field, high-calibre designers are very hard to come by. ” That’s why, added Mr. Tsai, that he was pleasantly surprised to find that UM has many high-quality students that perfectly meet their needs. He expressed interest to carry out cooperation with UM in the field of state-of-the-art analogue IC design research. He foresaw that research in this field would gain further momentum during the next five to ten years.