UT Dallas to House Cutting-Edge Analog Design Center

$16 Million Collaboration with State to Address Energy Efficiency, Other Issues

Oct. 15, 2008

Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced a $16 million collaboration among academia, industry and government that will create the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, TxACE, at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The research center will help create leading-edge analog technology for both traditional electronics and emerging applications. It’s a collaborative effort by the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), the state, Texas Instruments Inc., the UT System and UT Dallas.

The collaboration will focus on research in analog and radio frequency technologies to help address some of the world’s biggest challenges in such areas as energy efficiency, health care and public safety. The results should enable mixed-signal integrated circuits for state-of-art applications in a wide range of wired and wireless electronics, benefiting markets and people worldwide.

Texas Instruments is providing $1.5 million in endowments to UT Dallas, funding an analog design professor who will be the TxACE director and a graduate student fellowship for analog design research. In addition, TI has committed $2.7 million for TxACE research projects over three years.

The SRC is providing an additional $1.2 million a year for three years. UT Dallas and the UT System are providing more than $3.7 million in matching funds over the next three years, and these funds are being matched by the state’s Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) with $4.5 million over three years.

“Analog technology is critically important for connecting digital electronics with the real world,” said Dr. David Yeh, SRC’s director for Integrated Circuits and Systems Research. “Ironically, as almost every electronic device increasingly relies on digital technology advances for improved performance and cost, the need for advances in analog technology is also increasing.”

Recent growth in global semiconductor sales reflects a continual increase in demand for electronics enabled by analog and mixed-signal chips. Examples include wired and wireless communications where weak digital signals are recovered by special analog circuits, automotive and robotic uses for control circuits, medical electronics that gather sensor inputs for patient monitoring, diagnostics and therapy, and a broad range of other consumer applications where a human interface and energy efficiency are critical.

The ability of TI and the state to bring together so much talent and funding bodes well for the region’s growth as a global technology center, according to Gregg Lowe, senior vice president for TI’s Analog business unit.

“This effort will ultimately put innovative new analog circuits in the hands of electronics engineers to help solve pressing issues facing society, such as making better health care more accessible and affordable and using energy resources more efficiently,” he said.

Analog expertise at UT Dallas has grown significantly in recent years, and that trend should further accelerate now, according to Dr. Bruce Gnade, UTD’s vice president for research. In addition, the center’s faculty researchers will expand the analog curriculum at the university’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“For students, analog technology has largely been eclipsed by the perceived glitz of digital,” said Dr. Mark Spong, dean of the Jonsson School. “The majority of electrical engineering students specialize in digital electronics. But as the use of digital grows, the need for analog grows at several times that rate since analog is the interface between digital and the outside world. So analog engineers are in great demand, plus many engineers find analog more rewarding to work with than digital. And TxACE will help us convey the excitement of analog technology to students.”

The first research results from the center are expected to be ready for use in devices within five to eight years.

The state’s support for TxACE is for applied research to develop analog circuit technologies and products for the future. Since its inception in 2005, the TETF has allocated $125 million to Texas companies and universities. The TxACE grant was recommended for funding by the 17-member ETF Advisory Committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers.

“This grant adds to over $70 million of Research Superiority and Research Matching Grants already made in Texas by the TETF to bolster the level and quality of applied research in our region,” said Mike Lockerd, executive director of the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, which supports the TETF.


Media Contacts: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Circuit board

Industry experts call it the analog paradox: Rather than displacing analog electronics, digital design requires even greater use of it.

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