IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich joined forces in 2001 to develop advanced communication technologies when they announced the opening of a new center at ETH for the design of novel high-frequency analog circuits crucial to the advance of wired and wireless communication technologies. The center will receive substantial technical and financial support from IBM and collaborate with IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory.
Although information technology has "digitalized the world", analog circuitry is still essential for sending and receiving signals with all devices, be they mobile phones, satellite transmitters or interconnects between the chips of computer and communications systems.
“ IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory is a good partner for ETH. The Laboratory has been fundamental for high-tech research being conducted on a high level in the Zurich area for many years. ”
—ETH President Olaf Kübler
The technical challenges for analog technology have increased drastically, with the move to very high frequencies deployed for ever more bandwidth and high-speed data transmission.
These challenges will be addressed by the new Center for Advanced Silicon Electronics (CASE) at ETH, which enjoys an excellent reputation in high-frequency analog technology. CASE will play an essential role through research projects, attracting young talent and providing education in this increasingly important field.
IBM will support this work with substantial technical and financial contributions valued at roughly one million Swiss francs initially and close to half a million annually in following years. This sponsorship is a reflection of the crucial role analog technology plays in IBM's research activities and its expanding wired and wireless communications product portfolio.
Analog design and simulation work at CASE will require powerful computer systems. Six high-end workstations donated by IBM will be a major part of the efficient infrastructure currently being established.
“CASE is exemplary of the type of collaboration IBM is seeking with academia, characterized by the substantial contributions and mutual benefit of both parties in an area of increasing technical importance.”
—Hans Ulrich Märki, Chairman of the Board, IBM EMEA
IBM will also fund two to three pre-doctoral students, in addition to the two to three pre-docs funded by ETH, while IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory will host a steady flow of five to ten students participating in fundamental research projects for high-frequency analog technology. "IBM's support will make it possible to design and test new chips based on advanced IBM technologies, from basic layout to prototyping, which far exceeds our regular programs," said Werner Bächtold, responsible for the CASE operation at ETH.
CASE will have access to IBM's leading silicon technology based on widely-used CMOS processes and IBM's breakthrough silicon-germanium (SiGe) technology for very high-speed circuitry. IBM will contribute fabrication of prototype chips designed at CASE, which will subsequently be characterized and tested at CASE.
Research projects of our Laboratory aiming at Terabit throughput in network nodes, high-speed computer system interconnects and future wireless communication systems in the 10 to 40 Gb/s per channel range depend on complex high-frequency analog design and its combination with digital functionality. ETH has developed a recognized expertise over a number of years and a new generation of well-educated specialists is crucial for the continued success of such research activities.
"The tremendous synergy of technology and circuit design teams working together has been proved over and over again in our laboratories and critically in the marketplace," said Bernard Meyerson, Vice President of IBM's Communication Research and Development Center (CRDC), which supports IBM's growing presence in the Communications marketplace. "CASE now expands that teaming to a renowned campus, greatly extending the prospects for further advances in this field."
For more information, visit ETH CASE.