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ClassIC – creating a Swedish hub in semiconductor chip design

Now it is official – the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, is funding the multidisciplinary research center ClassIC with up to a total of 60 million SEK during a six-year period. The investment aims to build a research and education node for semiconductor system design to strengthen Swedish academia and industry in the field.

LTH and Chalmers – Published 20 April 2023

Close up of a high frequency chip. Photo.
High frequency chip for 6G communication is tested. Photo: Henrik Sandsjö

ClassIC (Chalmers-Lund Advanced Semiconductor System Design Center) is a joint venture between Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University, Acconeer, Axis Communications, Codasip, Ericsson, Saab and Qamcom, with the support of the companies GlobalFoundries, STMicroelectronics and Cadence. With expertise from all levels in semiconductor system design, the center will conduct research and offer education to pave the way for a new generation of chip designers and make Sweden a strong player in the field.

“The investment will be a cornerstone in the Swedish agenda for the EU's Chips Act through the center's strong ties to Europe. We will deliver the expertise required to maximize the benefit of application specific chips with billions of interacting transistors - a prerequisite for competitiveness and added value in advanced Swedish industrial products,” says Christian Fager at Chalmers University of Technology, who leads the center together with Joachim Rodrigues at LTH, Lund university.

“The center creates the best conditions for consolidating Swedish strengths when the two strongest, Swedish research and educational environments in the field join forces. This creates a platform for expanding national and international collaborations and ventures,” says Joachim Rodrigues.

With an increased independence focusing on Swedish industry

The growing need for a Swedish research and collaboration node for semiconductor systems is caused by the global semiconductor shortage that has affected both industry and consumers in recent years. With application areas in telecommunications, electrification, infrastructure and radar systems, semiconductor chips are crucial for several of society's most fundamental functions: mobile communication, internet, transport, and defense. The investment in ClassIC does not only enable an increased national independence in semiconductor design but may also pave the way for an energy and performance optimized chip design, adapted to the specific needs of Swedish industry.

“To become a leading nation in the field, we need to have the world's best chips. By taking control of the construction of semiconductor chips, we can find optimized and more adapted solutions for Swedish companies. We also make ourselves less dependent on foreign players and contribute to the green transformation,” says Christian Fager.

And the research center's industrial partners take a bright view of what SSF's investment in ClassIC is expected to bring.

“Ericsson welcomes the announcement that SSF has chosen to finance ClassIC. Advanced semiconductor systems are central for Ericsson's technology and market leadership. ClassIC is important for Ericsson and for the long-term competitiveness of the entire Swedish industry,” says Björn Ekelund, Research Director in Hardware at Ericsson.

“Semiconductor systems play an important role in Saab’s mission in keeping people and societies safe. We are therefore thrilled that ClassIC has received funding from SSF. This funding will push the boundaries of innovation in the semiconductor space and drive growth for our own business and the industry as a whole. Together, we can make a significant contribution to the future of advanced semiconductor systems and are grateful for the support of ClassIC. We look forward to collaborating on this exciting project, “says Petter Bedoire, CTO at Saab.

Training a new generation of chip designers

An important part of the center's activities involves offering education in the entire construction and design chain of semiconductor systems. Together with the center's partners from the industry, the ambition is to educate and pave the way for the next generation of semiconductor designers. Chalmers University of Technology contributes expertise in computer architectures, communication algorithms and high-frequency electronics. LTH at Lund University contributes expertise in wireless systems, energy efficiency and modeling.

“Being able to train a new generation of chip makers who understand its entire system is something we are really passionate about in this center. We will educate students from a range of different disciplines who can see the entire chain – from transistor level to chip and algorithms, and who can understand analog as well as digital parts,” says Christian Fager.

With the funding from SSF, a dozen doctoral students and post-docs can be employed within the center to, in close collaboration and frequent exchanges between Chalmers University of Technology and LTH, advance the positions of Swedish research in semiconductor system design.

Contributing to the European semiconductor agenda

In order to make member states more independent from non-European semiconductor producers, the EU has recently launched a major investment of 43 billion Euros, The European Chips Act, which aims to stimulate research, development and production of semiconductors in Europe, and to create robust supply chains. With funding secured from SSF, ClassIC now wants to contribute to the European semiconductor agenda.

“We want to take a major role in the European strategy for semiconductors. With the funding from SSF, we can create a northern European node in the field and contribute to strengthening Swedish as well as European industry,” says Joachim Rodrigues.

Joachim Rodrigues. Photo.

Joachim Rodrigues

Director of ClassIC and Associate Professor and Head of Integrated Electronic Systems at the Department of Electrical and Information Technology at Faculty of Engineering at Lund University

Joachim Rodrigues in Lund University Research Portal

+46 46 222 48 68

Christian Fager. Photo.

Christian Fager

Christian Fager, Director of ClassIC and Professor at the Microwave Electronics Laboratory, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Chalmers

Christian Fager on Chalmers' webbsite

+46 31-772 50 47

Björn Ekelund. Photo.

Björn Ekelund

Research Director in Hardware at Ericsson

Petter Bedoire. Photo.

Petter Bedoire

CTO at Saab