Time was when the digital signal processing community would converge annually at ICASSP (International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing, now known simply as the International Conference on Signal Processing). That still happens, but a lot of practitioners of the art and science of DSP stay away, regarding ICASSP as too "academic." Or their management, sadly, does not see the payoff in sending someone to Greece or Hawaii. While the "academic" characterization may be unfair, there are certainly other conferences that are easier to sell to management. The IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) is one of these. This annual conclave of analog gurus is set to start this Sunday, February 3 in San Francisco.
ISSCC is attractive to DSP engineers mainly because today's ICs blur the distinction between system and chip. Thus, "analog" ICs often perform a lot of digital signal processing. The conference provides at least two distinct advantages, apart from having the IEEE stamp of quality. These are:
- The presentations provide a view of applications and solutions that includes both analog and digital signal processing, with a lot of quantitative data.
- In general, new chips are announced at the conference only if parts are available and other important criteria have been met.
Here are a couple of papers of interest to DSP system designers from last year's conference and from the advance program for the 2008 conference scheduled next week. As a DSP guy, I am happy to report that I sat through the presentations last year and was able to understand and appreciate them!
From ISSCC 2007:
- "A 7mW-to-183 mW Dynamic Quality-Scalable H.264 Video Encoder Chip," Chang et al from National University, Taiwan.
- "A Digitally Modulated Polar CMOS PA with 20MHz Signal Bandwidth," Kavousian et al, Stanford University.
From ISSCC 2008 Advance Program:
- "Why Can't A Computer Be More Like A Brain? Or What To Do With All Those Transistors?" Jeff Hawkins, Numenta.
- "A 90 nm CMOS 60GHz Radio," S.Pinel et al, Georgia Tech.
You get the idea. Engineers in Silicon Valley have the advantage that they can hop on BART or Caltrain and be there, subject to supervisor approval. Plus, I think the analog gurus could benefit from interaction with DSP engineers a.k.a., the salt of the earth.
About the author
Shiv Balakrishnan has more than 25 years of experience in signal processing including 12 years at Tektronix. He has held engineering and technical marketing positions in startups as well as Fortune 500 companies like Philips, Sun and TI. His consulting work spans the range from signal processing system design to market research and competitive analysis. Shiv is named co-inventor on multiple DSP and wireless patents. His undergraduate degree is from the Indian Institute of Technology and graduate studies were at the University of Florida and Purdue University.