This year the Phil Kaufman award committee has gone back to more traditional origins for its awardees: UC Berkeley. Dr. Chenming Hu will receive the award at this year's DAC conference in Austin Texas. The Phil Kaufman Award honors individuals who have had demonstrable impact on the field of EDA through technology innovations, education/mentoring, business or industry leaderships. The proximity of Silicon Valley and UC Berkeley is not a geographical accident, but an example of the synergy between business development and research.
Too often I hear that funding for pure research is inopportune and funds should be instead used for whatever pet project my interlocutor is interested in. But, as the work of Dr. Hu points out, we need the funds to explore, to make mistakes and learn from them, to test commercial feasibility, and finally deploy a product and grow the national and world economies.
As the EDAC release writes, Dr. Hu is being recognized for his contributions to device physics, device modeling, and device reliability through BSIM and BERT models. His inventions have transformed the semiconductor manufacturing and electronic design automation industries. Just as important, Dr. Hu’s team invented the revolutionary 3D FinFET transistor structure that simultaneously achieves size and power reduction to enable continued scaling of the microelectronic chips.
Dr. Hu's work underlines the strict correlation between EDA and the semiconductor industry. The recognition comes at a time when collaboration between foundries and EDA companies is necessarily growing so intimate to approach exclusivity. Producing structures and using tools to position and connect them will soon no longer be a matter of choice. The amount of investment required to produce an efficient design and development environment will be such to make producing an alternative too expensive.
As a man of both industries, Dr. Hu exemplifies such integration.