This is a draft. I will appreciate it very much if anyone can give my some useful tips and suggestion. Thanks a lot!
Computer Engineering and Electrical Studies Background
As an Electrical Engineering undergraduate student of the University of Michigan, I decided to continue my Master of Science degree in electrical engineering to do a further study in VLSI. My interest in VLSI was sparked by a visit to the Silicon Valley where many famous microprocessor and IC design companies located. The Intel Museum there promoted me to delve deeper into the areas. I believe that a Master in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in VLSI would be an ideal precursor to fill my interest and lead a promising path to my future career.
There are several important courses I took in my junior and senior year that upgraded my engineering skills and understanding in VLSI. As in a chronological order, the first class inspired me should be Digital Integrated Circuit (EECS 312) in my junior year. During that semester, I was also taking a challenging course, Computer Architecture (EECS 470) that mainly focused on the high-performance processors but rarely covers the lower level digital system design and implementation. Meanwhile, through doing Verilog projects, I obtained solid and detailed understanding of how computers are designed and implemented, and I became aware of the numerous tradeoffs in design and implementation. When learning Digital Integrated Circuit, I started to realize how MOSFETs operate, how to design high-performance, low-power logic gates and how real integrated circuits are constructed. Both Computer Architecture and Digital Integrated Circuit present me a picture of the world filled with higher level processors, connected by extremely tiny circuit elements which aroused my interest in digging into the real and mysterious circuit design.
Without any hesitate, I decided to give myself another challenge during my senior year. I took VLSI Design I that further satisfied my enthusiasm for non-ideal circuit learning and design. Fully motivated, I had been studying thoroughly and diligently on this course. I understood different circuit families that made tradeoffs between performance, power consumption and area. In addition, as a project team leader, I immerged into the big course project. We first accomplished a 16-bit RISC microprocessor that is the baseline of the project. After doing researches and paper reading, I, together with my teammates, determined the topic to be a 4Mb, four-banked, low-power and sub-threshold voltage operating SRAM, and we used it as an instruction cache in the microprocessor. By carefully sizing the bit cell transistors, I achieved a large static noise margin of the SRAM that ensured the stability. And I reduced the power consumption by adopting the thin-cell layout and designing the power-gated address decoder. To verify the functionality of our design, I collaborated with a teammate to do the post-layout Monte Carlo simulation that continuously reported the functionality failure. I kept working on adjusting values of the parameters of the sense amplifier to make sure the data reading and writing are successful. To sum up, in this course I have learned a complete set of circuit knowledge and strengthened my hands-on engineering skills to accomplish a project with my teammates.
Those courses mentioned above established my solid academic background. What makes me more competitive is that I am taking a more challenging graduate course in this semester, VLSI Design II (EECS 627), which combines both Computer Architecture and VLSI. Currently I am doing a four-core processor with a shared cache using MESIF cache coherency protocol and Razor style design. I believe that at the end of this course, I will obtain stronger engineering hands-on experience and background. However, I do not feel satisfied. As I learned more, my desire to make progress is stronger. I would very much like to reach my goal at the University of Michigan where I am currently studying. I want to take the course Advanced High Performance VLSI Design (EECS 628) that further addresses the recent chip design and circuit knowledge. And other graduate level courses provided such as Parallel Computer Architecture (EECS 570) will allow me to work more creatively. I believe that with a Master degree in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan will fulfill my interest in circuit and processor design and make me become more competitive in pursuing my future career.