Technology: The Small-Scale World
Evolution of technology from the invention of the wheel to self-driving cars has been immense. Technology has made it possible to fit the entire world into a grain-sized chip. The way the field of electronics and communication technology has evolved to date left the world of technology mesmerized. Ever since the invent of vacuum tubes it has been evolving rapidly and today it can even have millions of transistors in a single chip. The growth of electronics in the field of technology has been possible with the constant reduction of the size in the electronic components. The electronic technology powers all other front-end technologies and makes it possible for those technologies to function properly.
The stages that the electronic or computer technology has evolved through making it accessible to people at smaller sizes and lower costs are:
- Vacuum tubes are the first stage of computers that came into existence. They literally stored data into memory drums. To solve a simple problem the vacuum tubes used to take days together. Many such problems led to the invent of the next stage of technology.
- Transistor age gave rise to the replacement of vacuum tubes, making the computer systems much smaller, faster and cheaper. Use of transistors had to be scaled up for better and scalable issues.
- Integrated Circuits (IC’s) are still considered to be one of the huge achievements of electronic technology. Integrating many small transistors into small into a single semiconductor chip led its way to the miniature world of technology.
- Microprocessors went much ahead integrating thousands of IC’s into a single silicon chip. This led way for the invention of laptops, tablets and many other devices which have advanced processors like Intel i3, i5, etc.
- The Robotic age or the current quantum age is the fifth stage of technology, it spans a wide range of developments in technology and artificial intelligence is the most renowned of all these.
The technology that has made it possible for a large number of transistors to fit into a single chip has given way to the rise of small-scale technology and is termed as Very-Large-Scale-Integration (VLSI) Technology. The Integrated Circuits formed by integrating the transistors are used almost in every electronic device possible. Microprocessors formed by thousands of IC’s is an extension to the VLSI technology.
Reduced size and cost are the two main advantages that have made it possible for the growth of VLSI technology. About 20,000 to 1,00,000 transistors can be integrated into a small and single chip currently. Due to its reduced size VLSI technology is also called as Microtechnology and its devices are termed as microcontrollers. Before the invent of VLSI technology the IC’s that existed could perform only limited operations in a small-scale, but the VLSI technology made it possible for much faster operations in a large-scale.
The VLSI technology has sub-fields under it that work in coordination with each other making it possible to integrate large numbers of transistors and evolving in the reduction of size and cost day-by-day. The main technical fields under VLSI are:
Electronic Device Automation uses Electronic tools like ECAD to design and simulate working of devices like transistors, IC’s, etc. These tools make the design process much easier.
Technology needs to evolve with time and research about the technology makes it possible to invent new designs and test their implementation.
The logic, physical structure and working of electronic devices need to be designed with precision by the designers in order to implement and test its working.
The design of successful implementations of the electronic devices should be manufactured in large scale. The machines and personnel used to perform this task should be precise in manufacturing the electronic devices.
The VLSI technology is offered as a field of study in the M.Tech. course. The course is completely about the VLSI technology and learning the technology to build chips that contain a large number of transistors. Latest technologies are being developed to integrate many microprocessors into chips to perform operations much faster and efficiently. VLSI technology is definitely the road for miniature device technology.