THE HISTORY OF MICROELECTRONICS DEVELOPMENT IN ARMENIA
Rapid growth of microelectronics in Armenia started in the middle of 1950s as a consequence of USSR leadership decisions on the development of precision machine building and device building in SSRA. In 1954-55 Armenian scientists (T. Ter-Michaelyan and others) participated in the development of one of the first USSR electronic computers, M-3, under the supervision of A. Iosifyan and I. Bruk in Moscow, the advanced version of which under the name of “Gohar” was later used in the National Academy of Sciences in SSRA. In those years at the Yerevan State University’s Electronics Department, scientific-research work in the field of electronics, in particular, semiconductor electronics was carried out (under the supervision of H. Anzhur, and later H. Atoyan). Simultaneously, at the SSRA NAS Physics Institute, electronic devices for recording and studying cosmic rays were developed (M. Ayvazyan and others). In future Soviet years Armenia turned into a leading center for the design and production of microelectronic devices as well as the development of equipment in the area of computer engineering, control systems and telecommunications, based on these earlier devices. After the collapse of USSR, a number of well-known foreign companies established their branches in Armenia taking advantage of the traditions as well as the specialist potential in the field of microelectronics in the country. As a result, Armenia’s microelectronics industry has been revived. Thus, the history of Armenia’s microelectronics development can be divided into two periods – Soviet and post-Soviet.Notable years in the development of the Armenian microelectronics industry during Soviet times:1956
- The Yerevan Computer Research and Development Institute (YCRDI) was founded on the initiative of academicians V. Hambardzumyan, A. Iosifyan and S. Mergelyan. In Soviet times the main focus of their activities was the development and introduction of computers, complexes as well as common and special-purpose automated control systems in the national economy. During its long-term activities, the Institute has developed and implemented four generations of computers, complexes and automated control systems. In 1992 the Institute had a staff of approximately 3500 engineers and more than 7000 employees together with the experimental factory and the factory for integrated circuits.1957
- On the initiative of NAS and with the support of the Government of Armenia the Computer Center of the Academy of Sciences and Yerevan State University (currently the Institute of Informatics and Automation Problems at the National Academy of Sciences) was founded.1958
- On the initiative of Academician A. G. Iosifyan, the Cermet and Semiconductors Factory was established in Yerevan, later renamed in 1960 the Special Engineering -Technological Bureau of Semiconductor Technology (Bureau ST). In 1960-1961 this enterprise was one of the first in the USSR to produce semiconductor amplifier diodes, transistors and thyristors. The company was later renamed “Transistor”.1960
- Under the supervision of E. Mirzabekyan research activities in the development of supersensitive amplifiers and quantum semiconductor electronics issues were implemented.1964
- Using the potential of the “Transistor” Enterprise, “Sirius” Plant, producing radioelements, particularly varistors was established in the city of Abovyan.1965
- A microelectronics plant producing diodes and hybrid integrated circuits was established in Abovyan (“Posistor”)1966
- On the initiative of the USSR military-industrial complex, the Institute of Microelectronics Scientific-Research and Technology was established in Yerevan. Since 1981, it has been incorporated into the “Ani” Scientific Production Association with the “Garni”, “Araks” and “Lalvar” Plants). The Abovyan Microelectronics Plant joined the association at a later date. SPA was engaged in the development of microelectronic circuits and was a leader in the areas of developing automated measurement devices as well as floppy disks, drivers and laser marking of microcircuits in USSR.1973-74
- Electronic devices for “Orion-1” and “Orion-2” stations, envisaged for extra-atmospheric research in the near-earth orbit were developed (G.. Gurzadyan and others).1975
- Self-developed pilot plant for mass production of power semiconductor devices was established.1978
- The Yerevan Telecommunications Research Institute was founded as a branch of the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Radio Communication. The technological base of the Yerevan institute enabled the production of high-quality equipment by thin-film technology (with an accuracy of 1 micron), as well as the implementation of mechanical and galvanic processing. Hybrid ICs were made to order.1980
- The “Transistor” enterprise’s scientific-research laboratory, furnished with modern equipment and super-clean rooms, was established for the development of new types of electronic components.1983
- With the participation of the employees of the Byurakan observatory, the “Astron” astrophysical satellite was constructed and launched in 1983, Under the supervision of Yu. Khojoyan, the group of innovators were awarded the USSR state prize, while the younger specialist received the All-Union Youth Lenin prize (1984).1983
- A group of participants from the Microelectronics Scientific-Research Technological Institute were also awarded with the All-Union Youth prize (headed by L. Abrahamyan) for the development and introduction of the “Gamma” family of controlling-measuring devices.1984
- According to USSR government decree, construction of the Ashtarak Power Semiconductor Devices Plant (Ashtarak Plant), with USD 120 million total investment was started. Planned annual production capacity -10 million semiconductor devices.1984
- The electronics industry in the Soviet Socialistic Republic of Armenia developed in the direction of processing quantum generators (M. Ter-Michaelyan and others), photoreceivers and photoconverters (V. Harutyunyan and others), integrated circuits and microsets (S. Mkrtchyan and others).1988
- Transistor Co. was established, amalgamating Transistor SPE, Ashtarak Plant and Transistor-Kermet branch enterprise (the former technological subdivision of Yerevan Computer Research and Development Institute ).1970-1990
- – A number of other enterprises developing and producing electronic and microelectronic devices for the USSR military-industrial complex operated in Armenia - “AGAT” SPA, “BAZALT” factory, “HAYAVIAHAMALIR” SPA, “HRAZDANMASH” SPA, etc.
The main enterprises engaged in the sphere of microelectronics in Armenia in Soviet times were: YCRDI, “Transistor”, Microelectronics scientific-research Institute and the Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute. The activities of these enterprises are outlined below.Yerevan Computer Research and Development Institute
YCRDI was founded by the USSR government and its initial task was the development of computer equipment. Through all stages of computer science development, the Institute became a major center for the development of computers and automated control systems for civil and defense purposes. The Institute acted as a coordinating center for the Republic and its success and development had a crucial effect on the development of other adjacent branches of science and technology. At the beginning of 1960s the main areas of Institute activities were determined. At first, these focused on small and medium performance computers and by the end of 1960s – special purpose computers and automated control systemsThe foundation and success of YCRDI is undoubtedly due to the names of NAS RA academicians V. Hambardzumyan, A. Iosifyan, S. Mergelyan and F. Sargisyan as well as the constant attention of Armenian leaders and by the National Academy of Sciences. The profile of the Institute led to the creation of all structures necessary for the development of computer equipment starting from technical specifications and ending with their introduction and operation,. Departments for construction, computer aided design, software development and testing, laboratory for testing computer parts and units in different ambient conditions and documentation were also established.
For producing pilot samples of computers and computer equipment, an experimental factory was founded at YCRDI. The factory ensured the thorough testing of pilot samples before sending them for mass production and modified documents and technical solutions.
During its development activities the Institute closely collaborated with the Research and Development Center for Computer Techniques (NICEVT, Moscow), the Institute for Precise Mechanics and Computer technologies (ITM&VT, Moscow), the Automated Equipment R&D Institute (Moscow), R&D Institute for Computers (Moscow) and others. YCRDI designed computers were produced at Kazan Computer factory (Russian Federation), Vinnitsa Radio Technical Factory (Ukraine), Yerevan “Electron” factory (Armenia) and elsewhere.
Due to close cooperation with leading scientific research institutions and Soviet Union factories, it was possible to acquire significant experience in the development, introduction and and operation of four generations of computers, complexes and automated control systems.
One of the first projects developed by YCRDI was the first generation mainframe, ARAGATS, with electron tubes, diode-transformation gates and ferrite memory devices (1958-1960, Head of the project – B. Haikin).
Between 1958 and 1961 a second generation computer, HRAZDAN, was developed, the first to be used in the USSR, and was constructed on the basis of semiconductor devices, (Head of the project – E. Brusilovsky). In 1962 the development of the first complex of high-speed logic gates “Magni”, the first to be used in the USSR, was completed (V. Karapetyan and others). In 1964 HRAZDAN-3 was developed (V. Rousanevitch and others) using high-speed logical elements.
In the 1960s, in addition to universal electronic computers, a range of specialized machines were created at YCRDI – “Statistika” (V. Rusanevich and others), “Dvin” (R. Harutyunyan and others), “Araks” (G. Belkin and others) and “Marshrut” (A. Kuchukyan and others). In 1974, the developers of the “Marshrut-3” calculating complex were awarded with the USSR state prize.
YCRDI was the first institution in the USSR to develop the small microprogram control NAIRI 1,2,3,3-1 series of computers (1963-1971, Head of the projects – H. Hovsepyan, USSR State prize – 1971). Between 1972 and 1976 NAIRI 3-2 and NAIRI 3-3 computers were developed (Chief Designer – H. Geoletsyan, Ukraine State prize). These were the collective use and problem-oriented computers in the USSR. The computers NAIRI 4 ARM, NAIRI 4 and NAIRI 41 which were designed for automatic control and were planned for serial/mass production (1974-1981, Head of the Projects G. Ohanyan) ensured the processing of any graphical and text information and compatibility with such popular computer families as SM EVM (USSR) and PDP (USA). Between 1980 and 1981 development of NAIRI 4B and NAIRI 4B/C was completed (Heads of the projects V. Karapetyan and H. Sarkisyan, USSR State prize, 1987). They were designed for utilization in automatic control systems such as communications and back-end computers.
Between 1964 and 1990 the range of NAIRI computers were produced at the YCRDI experimental factory, the Armenian "Electron" factory and Kazan computer factories (Russian Federation), held 44 patents and were shown at 19 international exhibitions.
In 1967-1968. the BRS system, which processed telecommunication information, and ensured a flight to the moon, was upgraded and put into production (Head of the project – A. Kuchukyan).
Between 1967 and 1973 the fault-tolerant computer system, MARSHRUT-1, with three interchangeable special purpose computers, was developed and introduced by YCRDI for the first time in the USSR, to provide the automated sale of tickets at Moscow’s railway (Head of the project – A. Kuchukyan, Armenia State prize 1974).
Meanwhile, YCRDI commenced the development of medium performance mainframes for the Unified Range of Computers (ЕС-ЭВМ). They were compatible with IBM 360, 370 and 4300 families and were produced in bulk quantities at the "Electron" (Armenia) and Kazan (Russian federation) factories.
Within the scope of these activities YCRDI designed the EC-1030 (Heads of the project - M. Semerjyan, A. Kuchukyan, Armenia State prize 1976); the EC-1045 and EC-1046 mainframes (Head of the projects – A. Kuchukyan, USSR State prize 1983, collectively, Armenia State prizes in 1983 and 1988). A. Kuchukyan was one scientist to be awarded the Lenin prize.
YCRDI simultaneously developed complexes and systems. Based on the EC-1030 mainframe, the first duplex BK-1010 system was developed (1975, Head of the project V. Rusanevich). Similarly, based on the EC-1045 and EC-1046 mainframes, duplex (BK-2M-45, BK-2M-46), dual (BK-2Ï-45, BK-2Ï-46) and triple modular BK-3M-45, MBK-46 fault-tolerant systems were developed (1975-1981, Head of the projects – A. Kuchukyan).
To increase the productivity of mainframes on special tasks, the institute was the first in the USSR to develop an array processor (1980, Head of the project – A. Kuchukyan).
A thin-film memory unit technology was developed and implemented for YCRDI to develop memory units for computers. (Heads of the project – L. Grigoryan, A. Edigaryan, Armenia State prize 1974).
In the 1960s, at YCRDI as well as at other electronic industry and computer design institutions, , valuable research was carried out in the areas of developing the theory of power transistors (G. Avagyants and others), universal supply sources (Zh. Mkrtchyan and others), threshold logical elements (S. Mkrtchyan and others) and film integrated circuits (K. Yeghyan and others).“Transistor” Scientific Production Association (SPA)Transistor Scientific Production Association
, during the years of its operation, was one of the USSR’s leading companies in the field of scientific-technical developments and the manufacture of power semiconductor devices, electrotechnical units and components.
Between 1960 and 1970, high-voltage float germanium and silicon diodes and thyristor valves (up to 100A and 2000 V) were developed.
In 1973 diffusion-epitaxial technology for the creation of a unified set of power semiconductor transistors was developed. In 1983, a bipolar 40A and 1000V transistor, meant for application in machine tool electric drives with NC control systems, won first prize in the All-Union Competition.
In 1982 technologies for the production of powerful high-voltage diodes, with no more than 0.5 microsecond reverse recovery time, were developed as well as for manufacturing silicon diffusion polished structures.
In 1985 unique planar mesa-technology for manufacturing a wide range of electronic components, using gallium diffusion, glass-passivation, defect detection and selective radiation was applied in serial production.
In 1980-1993, a set of semiconductor modules was developed, including powerful (about 500A and 1000V) transistors.
In 1988 jointly with specialists from the Angstrem plant (Russia, Zelinograd), technology for high-voltage MOSFET and IGBT transistors was developed.
In the 1980s, a set of devices for diagnostic, testing and control over power semiconductor devices, were developed, manufactured and used internally.The Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute The Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute
was founded in 1978 as a branch of the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Radio Communication.The institute is specialized in creating the microelectronical means for space communication.Since 1989 it has been involved in the development and manufacturing of units and systems of communication, radioelectronical equipment and software. The institute uses thin-film technology, which provides an accuracy of 1 micron, precise mechanical processing and galvanotechnics.
The capacity of measuring devices and systems is up to 40 GHz.Notable years in the development of the Armenian microelectronics industry during Post Soviet times:1999
– Virage Logic’s Yerevan office was established. Founded in 1996 in Fremont, California, Virage Logic Corporation rapidly established itself as a technology and market leader in providing advanced embedded memory intellectual property (IP) for the design of complex integrated circuits. At present, the company designs embedded memories.
Virage Logic focuses on providing its customers with a choice of leading-edge technology solutions to help meet their manufacturing requirements across a wide-range of technological processes. The activity of Virage Logic’s Yerevan office focuses on designing Embedded Test and Repair devices.2000
- After Armenia gained independence and departments dealing with automatic control systems formed a separate scientific research institute (YerACSSRI), YCRDI started to direct its scientific-technical potential to solve the country’s problems There are many highly qualified specialists in computer systems, software and electronics in the Institute today.
In recent years the institute has developed a number of important systems such as the special purpose PAREK-VS (1994-2000), Information-Analytical INIA (1997-2006) and the URARTU system (1995-2002) for the control, calculation and checking of electricity consumption. It has upgraded radioelectronic equipment and developed cryptography equipment and systems. .
Under the leadership of A. Kuchukyan and with assistance from USAID, TACIS, WB and other international organizations, a number of information and control systems of great importance have been developed which have a hierarchical structure and are based on off-the-shelf personal computers with modern application software.
The main directions of YCRDI activities are now: the development and introduction of multi-purpose information and automated control systems, automation of control subsystems of special complexes, development and implementation of analytical information-control systems, design and delivery of automation means of stationary and mobile systems, design and delivery of special equipment, and upgrade and maintenance of special purpose radioelectronic equipment.2000
- As a result of privatization, Viasphere Technopark CJSC (based on Transistor SPE), as well as Transistor-Kermet Co. Ltd and Sin-Crystal (based on the Ashtarak Plant) were established.
The activity of Technopark is focused on supporting its own scientific research departments, as well as the upgrading of hi-tech tenant-firms.
Technopark houses more than 20 hi-tech tenant-companies and more than 600 specialists. Priority directions for Technopark include: information technologies, microelectronics, chip design, and electronics, etc.
The main scientific-technical developments and products of “Viasphere Technopark” CJSC are: Solar cells and photovoltaic power supply systems using these cells, DC-AC hybrid inverters, superhigh frequency transistor power amplifiers and devices for the density measurement of porous materials.2000
– A number of leading American companies in integrated circuit (IC) design opened their branches in Armenia. Mainy young specialists were included, who very quickly obtained the necessary professional knowledge and skills in the field of EDA to contribute to the success of those companies. Among such companies were LEDA SYSTEMS, VIRAGE LOGIC, EPIGY LABS, HPL, MONTEREY ARSET, etc. In particular, the accomplishments of LEDA SYSTEMS later contributed to the establishment of a world leader, SYNOPSYS, in Armenia.2000
- LEDA SYSTEMS, Inc. founded in Plano, Texas, USA in 1995 (President –Vahram Muradyan) established its Armenian branch in Yerevan (General Director Hovik Musayelyan). In 2004 it included 83 highly qualifid specialists in the area of IC design and its separate components. A major part of the company relocated to Armenia, and in 2003, after being renamed LEDA DESIGN, the basic operations were executed in Armenia. The main focus of company activities were: the development of digital standard cells and I/O libraries, digital, analog and analog-digital, IP as well as the complete IC. The unique nature of implemented activities and high quality attracted world famous organizations. Among the list of customers are Microsoft, Trident, Zailog, Zemix, and Intel. The policy of company management to focus on personnel training contributed to this success. On the initiative of the company and with the support of the management of the State Engineering University of Armenia (rector Yu. Sargsyan), a new educational model has started to operate. In 2001, on the basis of a cooperation agreement between LEDA SYSTEMS and SEUA “Microelectronic Circuits and Systems”, an interdepartmental Chair of the University was established (headed by V. Melikyan), based at the company premises and forming an educational resource for the company. This was the first example of a “University to Enterprise” educational model in Armenia. It favored universal attention and high appraisal as the Interdepartmental Chair (the Educational Department of LEDA DESIGN) proved the capacity to execute its main task in the direction of training high-quality human resources for the company’s needs. The success of the educational model also gained the attention of RA Government; in 2002 RA President, R. Kocharyan, paid a visit to the Educational Department of LEDA DESIGN.2000
– Epygi Technologies, headquartered in Dallas, Texas opened its office in Armenia. The company designs and manufactures all-in-one IP PBXs. It has offices in the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. The company has over 200 employees.2004
– During October and November Synopsys Inc., a world leader in EDA software for semiconductor design founded a large engineering design organization in Yerevan by hiring 45 employees of MONTEREY ARSET and 83 former employees of LEDA DESIGN. The company started the development of software and intellectual property for customers under the name SYNOPSYS ARMENIA. In 2005, SYNOPSYS acquired HPL Technologies, Inc., a leader in yield management software and test chip solutions. The current number of SYNOPSYS ARMENIA employees is over 350. SYNOPSYS ARMENIA consists of 2 groups – Solutions Group (SG) and Silicon Engineering Group (SEG). It is noteworthy that since the formation of SYNOPSYS ARMENIA the number of employees has increased rapidly , becoming the largest branch of the company outside of the United States. This provides some indication of SYNOPSYS intentions in the direction of Armenian microelectronics development. The data below highlights the importance of the establishment of SYNOPSYS in Armenia.http://www.microolymp.am/index.php?page=history
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