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A Conference for the Ages

By Mike Gianfagna on 02/28/2019
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The International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) was held recently in its permanent location at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. eSilicon had the honor of both presenting our SerDes capabilities and demonstrating the technology as well. More about that later. First, I’d like to examine the institution called ISSCC. The first ISSCC was held in 1954 in Philadelphia. Yes, 1954, that’s not a misprint. This conference has been around well over 60 years.

In its early years, the conference was known as “The Transistor Conference”, “The Conference on Transistor Circuits”, “The Philadelphia Conference,” or “The National Conference on Transistor Circuits.” The current name came into existence in 1960. There were six presenting organizations at the first event: Bell Labs, General Electric, RCA, Philco, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. Today, ISSCC brings together hundreds of presenting companies and research organizations from around the world. If the Consumer Electronics Show introduces new gadgets to the world, ISSCC introduces the semiconductor designs that power those gadgets.

In the 1970s, the conference began to migrate from Philadelphia, with alternating venues in Philadelphia/New York and San Francisco. In 1990, San Francisco became the permanent home of ISSCC. I have fond memories of attending ISSCC in New York when I worked at RCA, one of the anchor tenants of the conference. During that time, I recall Lewis Winner — essentially the editorial force behind ISSCC and its high-quality proceedings for many years. Lew definitely left his fingerprints on the event. The best paper award is named in his honor. From the ISSCC website:

The Lewis Winner Award for Outstanding Paper
Lewis Winner served ISSCC for three decades (1958 to 1988) as Editor, Publisher, and Conference Coordinator. He was responsible, in considerable part, for establishing and maintaining the high standards of ISSCC publications and presentations. The Award in his honor is based on ratings by Conference attendees in the previous year.

ISSCC has successfully resisted the temptation of adding a trade show. It seems to have worked. Today, ISSCC is truly an international event with roughly equal submissions from North America, Europe and Asia. A few years ago, demonstrations were added to provide more depth and detail to the presentations for a select group of submissions. eSilicon was accepted to present at ISSCC this year AND invited to demonstrate as well. Our team was quite excited to participate in the conference this way — presenting at ISSCC is a big deal and demonstrating makes it even better.

Many papers at ISSCC have long and very descriptive titles. We fit right in: “A Sub-250mW 1-to-56Gb/s Continuous-Range PAM-4 42.5dB IL ADC/DAC-Based Transceiver in 7nm FinFET.” The paper was presented by Matteo Pisati, senior manager, analog IC design. Matteo was joined at the show by Paolo Pascale, senior manager SerDes digital and Fernando De Bernardinis, senior system and algorithm manager. Additional authors include Claudio Nani, Marco Sosio, Enrico Pozzati, Nicola Ghittori, Federico Magni, Marco Garampazzi, Giacomino Bollati, Antonio Milani, Alberto Minuti, Fabio Giunco, Paola Uggetti, Ivan Fabiano, Nicola Codega, Alessandro Bosi, Nicola Carta, Demetrio Pellicone, Giorgio Spelgatti, Massimo Cutrupi, Andrea Rossini, Roberto Massolini, Giovanni Cesura, and Ivan Bietti. You may have guessed this by now – our talented SerDes team works at eSilicon Italy in Pavia, Italy.

eSilicon 56g SerDes presentation at ISSCC 2019

eSilicon DSP SerDes demo at ISSCC 2019

In addition to our team from Italy, the SerDes demonstration was driven by Tim Horel, our director of field applications. We got lots of visitors at the demo — sometimes the crowd was ten deep. There were also a lot of questions at the presentation and editor interviews. A consistent theme was literal dis-belief in the power numbers we were publishing. As they say, seeing is believing, and that was quite gratifying for our SerDes team. You can visit our website to learn more about our SerDes. We’re off to OFC in San Diego next week with even more exciting demos and more products. Stop by booth 5416 if you’re at the show.