MOSIS Educational Program Changes

MOSIS Educational Program Changes

Posted December 13, 2005



The MOSIS Service has been conducting an educational program since 1986, but we find that the sources of funding and how the program operates are still misunderstood by the users. From 1986 to 1994, this program was jointly funded by DARPA and NSF. In 1994, the DARPA funding for MOSIS and for the educational program ended. At that time and for the last eleven years, MOSIS has been self-supported, its sole source of revenue derived from its commercial operations.


From that time until 1998 the educational program was funded jointly by NSF and MOSIS. When the NSF funding ended in 1998, additional funding was obtained from the SIA/SRC and some industrial firms to supplement the MOSIS contribution. This additional funding ended in 2000 (SIA/SRC has indicated that they can no longer support MEP) and since that time the funding for the educational program has been provided by MOSIS.


In an attempt to aid educational institutions in the development of instructional and research programs in integrated circuits within their engineering departments, MOSIS initiated the MOSIS Educational Program (MEP). The MEP included an instructional component for support of scheduled classes in VLSI design to give students a chance to experience the full cycle of VLSI design, fabrication, and testing of an integrated circuit and a research component to support UNFUNDED RESEARCH conducted by graduate students and faculty persons who needed to develop critical mass in their areas of research in order to attract funding for future research. Both of these MEP components were offered at no cost to the universities, with minimal restrictions based on available MOSIS supported technologies and fabrication scheduling.

Since its creation the MEP has grown to a size that is now seriously taxing MOSIS support staff as well as our ability to bear the cost of the MEP. By far the largest component of MEP is the MEP Research component. We have a strong evidence to suspect that one of the reasons for this growth is that a number of institutions have abused the intent of the program, which was to support UNFUNDED research. Research projects which have existing funding available (or for which fabrication funding could be obtained) have been included in the submissions for MEP Research support. The MOSIS Service does NOT RECEIVE FUNDING FROM NSF OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY.


As stated earlier, MOSIS revenues are derived entirely from commercial operations, and it is this revenue stream that has enabled us to support the educational program. Because of this exponential growth, (in roughly five years since its creation) and the abuse of the initial intent (support for unfunded research efforts) it has now become necessary to place significant restrictions on the program submissions, and to have MEP Research participants bear some of the cost of its operation. MOSIS can no longer be the sole financial support of MEP Research, particularly when research projects that COULD OBTAIN FUNDING are being submitted for no-cost fabrication. MOSIS cannot afford to support the research efforts of much larger institutions and MOSIS lacks the resources to police the program effectively.


Effective immediately, we are placing an annual restriction of one chip per university (or per university campus, in the case of state universities with multiple campuses) with a total area not to exceed 10 square millimeters submitted for free fabrication under MEP Research. In order to receive this free fabrication allotment, the MEP Research proposal submitted to MOSIS must be accompanied by a letter from the Dean certifying that the applicant does not have external funding for the research project related to the design and fabrication of the chip described in the MEP Research proposal submitted to MOSIS. Fabrication of this free chip will be provided on a "space available" basis which means that MOSIS can not guarantee fabrication on the schedule selected by the applicant.


We are also creating a second level of MEP Research support which will place an annual limit on the total number of fabricated projects and/or total project area for which we will be charging a specially discounted fabrication fee for their fabrication. Under this second level of MEP Research support, the total annual area limit or total number of projects limit (whichever occurs first) will apply to each university for the entire academic year and will be renewed at the beginning of each academic year for each university participant. For the near future, the MEP Research area limit is 16 square millimeters per year per university participant with a limit of three (3) designs per year regardless of whether the total area of the three designs equals or exceeds the area limit.


The charge for the fabrication will be at a rate below the published discounted MOSIS price schedule and is posted to the MOSIS web site. This price is low enough that MOSIS is still subsidizing part of the cost of MEP Research fabrication. Devices fabricated under MEP Research will still be limited to fabrication on a "space available" basis with priority for insertion into a fabrication lot being given to the MOSIS commercial customers. MOSIS does not provide free MEP packaging for any Research submission. The cost for packaging devices fabricated under MEP Research will be in the amount of the discounted price on the MOSIS web pages. University participants requiring fabrication of VLSI devices beyond the above limits may use a commercial MOSIS account and will be given the same fabrication access priorities as any commercial MOSIS customer.


The pricing for fabrication under a university commercial account will be the discounted price on the MOSIS web pages. Of course, as with a commercial account there are no restrictions on the total area used or the number of projects fabricated. We regret the need to impose these restrictions upon universities who are participating in the MEP Research program. MOSIS has always desired to support to university VLSI education and research to whatever level we are able to afford within the limits of our organization. We hope that as we enter this new phase of MEP Research we will be able to consider relaxing some of these fabrication limits when we are able to secure financial support for MEP Research through external organizations to help defray some of the cost of fabrication of university MEP Research designs. No changes will be made to the MEP Instructional fabrication which will continue to be free of charge to the participating universities.



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