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World-class analog design research center, TxACE, will be launched in Dallas

Governor Perry announces $16M collaboration to fund university research in analog and mixed-signal design;

partners include Semiconductor Research Corporation, State of Texas, Texas Instruments, The University of Texas at Dallas and University of Texas System

Oct 14, 2008

DALLAS (October 14, 2008) - Governor Rick Perry announced today a $16 million collaboration among academia, industry and government that will create The Texas Analog Center of Excellence, TxACE, at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The research center will help create leading-edge analog technology for both traditional electronics and emerging applications. It is a collaborative effort by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the State of Texas, Texas Instruments Incorporated (NYSE: TXN) (TI), The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), which will officially launch TxACE at a reception hosted by the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization this evening.

Based at UT Dallas, the collaboration will focus on research in analog and radio frequency (RF) technologies to help address some of the world's biggest challenges in areas such as energy efficiency, healthcare and public safety. The results should enable mixed-signal integrated circuits for state-of-art applications in a wide range of wired and wireless electronics, benefiting markets and people worldwide.

"Through continued investment from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and collaborative efforts from private sector partners and universities, we are building an unrivaled portfolio of research in the most crucial areas of electronics," said Gov. Perry. "Research centers like TxACE are essential to strengthen growing industries and ensuring Texas maintains a competitive edge in a global economy."

Texas Instruments is providing $1.5 million in endowments to UT Dallas, funding an analog design professor who will be the TxACE director and a graduate student fellowship for analog design research. In addition, TI has committed $2.7 million for TxACE research projects over three years.

The SRC is providing an additional $1.2 million a year for three years. UT Dallas and the UT System are providing more than $3.7 million in matching funds over the next three years, and these funds are being matched by The State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund with $4.5 million over three years.

"Analog technology is critically important for connecting digital electronics with the real world," said Dr. David Yeh, SRC's director for Integrated Circuits and Systems Research, on assignment from TI. "Ironically, as almost every electronic device increasingly relies on digital technology advances for improved performance and cost, the need for advances in analog technology is also increasing."

Recent growth in global semiconductor sales reflects a continual increase in demand for electronics enabled by analog and mixed-signal chips. Examples include wired and wireless communications where weak digital signals are recovered by special analog circuits, automotive and robotic uses for control circuits, medical electronics that gather sensor inputs for patient monitoring, diagnostics and therapy, and a broad range of other consumer applications where a human interface and energy efficiency are critical. These capabilities will also be vital for growing public safety applications, such as more sophisticated identity cards and security sensor networks.

"Analog design research is highly complex and the need for this skill set is growing worldwide," said Gregg Lowe, senior vice president for TI's Analog business unit. "Applications in areas like healthcare and energy efficiency depend on the new analog circuits this research is focusing on. The ability of Texas Instruments and the state to connect so much talent and funding bodes well for this region as a global technology center and will ultimately put inventive new analog chips in the hands of electronics engineers to help solve pressing issues facing society today."

Analog expertise at UT Dallas has grown significantly in recent years, and that trend should further accelerate now, according to Dr. Bruce Gnade, UTD's vice president for research.

"Identifying technologies that will be in high demand and then providing strong local, state and industry funding for them at universities is bringing top academic talent to Texas," he said. "In turn, those high-caliber researchers are attracting funding from world-class efforts like SRC."

In addition, the center's faculty researchers will expand the analog curriculum at the university's Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

"For students, analog technology has largely been eclipsed by the perceived glitz of digital," said Dr. Mark Spong, dean of the Jonsson School. "The majority of electrical engineering students specialize in digital electronics. But as the use of digital grows, the need for analog grows at several times that rate since analog is the interface between digital and the outside world. So analog engineers are in great demand, plus many engineers find analog more rewarding to work with than digital. And TxACE will help us convey the excitement of analog technology to students."

The new center is also expected to greatly accelerate analog research developments at UT Dallas, which has been intimately involved in analog research that has led to breakthroughs in small radio integration for cellular handsets, the Global Positioning System (GPS), wireless local area networks (WLANs) and other high-demand applications.

The first research results from the center are expected to be ready for use in devices within five to eight years.

The state's Research Superiority Grant to TxACE is for applied research to develop analog circuit technologies and products for the future and comes from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF), a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature at the Governor's request in 2005 and reauthorized for a second biennium in 2007. Since its inception the TETF has allocated $115 million to Texas companies and universities. The TxACE grant was recommended to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House for funding by the 17-member ETF Advisory Committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts.

"This grant adds to over $70 million of Research Superiority and Research Matching Grants already made in Texas by the TETF to bolster the level and quality of applied research in our region," said Mike Lockerd, executive director of the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization (NTXRCIC) that supports the TETF. "We expect the ultimate result to be both innovative new products and entrepreneurial new companies in the area."

Public-private partnership to step up investigation in the increasingly important field of analog technology complements the fall 2006 launch of the Southwest Academy of Nanoelectronics, a separate collaboration by SRC, TI and the State of Texas. That nanoelectronics research effort is expected to play a vital role in developing devices that will succeed the silicon chip in 10 to 15 years.