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Stanford plays major role in $60 million semiconductor research project

The semiconductor industry has embarked on its most ambitious research program since 1987. Today, it announced a $60 million per year partnership with the federal government and 14 leading universities, including Stanford, to create a new national research network to conduct cutting-edge projects critical to the industry's future growth.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced formation of the Focus Center Research Program, which will consist of six national centers that will support $60 million in new research activities. According to the SIA, the program is expected to channel more than $500 million into the nation's research universities.

Contracts for the first two of these new research centers have been awarded. They are headed by the University of California-Berkeley and the Georgia Institute of Technology. According to the SIA, Stanford is the only university with research groups in both research centers.

The principal investigators from Stanford are John C. Bravman, professor of materials science and engineering, and electrical engineering Professors William J. Dally, Giovanni De Micheli, David A. B. Miller, Krishna Saraswat and S. Simon Wong.

The UC-Berkeley consortium, representing 10 universities, will concentrate on "design and test" issues. This refers to software programs used to create chips, as well as to testing of semiconductor components to ensure that circuits work correctly. The Georgia Tech group, representing six schools, will pursue research on "interconnect" technology. This addresses the wiring that connects the millions of transistors on a microchip. The research centers are funded through 2001.

Funding for the research centers will come from member companies of the SIA; SEMI/SEMATECH, a consortium of U.S. semiconductor suppliers; and the Department of Defense, represented by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

According to Craig R. Barrett, president and chief executive officer of Intel Corp. and chairman of the SIA's technology strategy committee, "The Focus Center program is the centerpiece of our new long-range plan to maintain the industry's growth by making sure we address the technological challenges that surface during the next decade."


By David F. Salisbury

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