|Birth Day:||December 1, 1941|
|Birth Place:||Vicenza, Italy|
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He immigrated to the U.S. to work for Fairchild Semiconductor.
The silicon-gate technology (SGT) is one of the most influential technologies to have fueled the progress of microelectronics since the MOSFET. Without the SGT, the first microprocessor could not have been made during 1970–1971. Prior to the development of SGT technology, the original MOSFET invented by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs, in 1959, used silicon as channel material and a non-self-aligned aluminium (Al) gate.
In 1967 he worked at SGS Fairchild, now STMicroelectronics, in Italy, where he developed SGS's first MOS metal-gate process technology and designed its first two commercial MOS integrated circuits. SGS sent him to California in February 1968 and when Fairchild sold its interests in SGS-Fairchild, Faggin accepted a job offer from Fairchild to complete the development of the silicon-gate technology.
In February 1968, Federico Faggin joined Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto where he was the project leader of the MOS silicon-gate technology, a MOSFET with a silicon self-aligned gate, and the inventor of its unique process architecture. The SGT became the basis of all modern NMOS and CMOS integrated circuits. It made possible the creation of MOS semiconductor memory chips during 1969–1970, the first microprocessor during 1970–1971, and the first CCD and EPROM (electrically programmable read-only memory) with floating silicon gates (1970-1971). The SGT replaced the incumbent aluminum-gate MOS technology, and was adopted worldwide within 10 years, eventually making obsolete the original integrated circuits built with bipolar transistors.
The Intel 4004. Federico Faggin joined Intel from Fairchild in 1970 as the project leader and designer of the MCS-4 family, which included the 4004, the world's first single-chip microprocessor. Fairchild was not taking advantage of the SGT and Faggin was burning with the desire of using his new technology to design advanced chips.
The Intel 8008 was the world's first single-chip 8-bit CPU and, like the 4004, was built with p-channel SGT. The 8008 development was originally assigned to Hal Feeney in March 1970 but was suspended until the 4004 was completed. It was resumed in January 1971 under Faggin's direction utilizing the basic circuits and methodology he had developed for the 4004, with Hal Feeney doing the chip design. The CPU architecture of the 8008 was originally created by CTC, Inc., to power the Datapoint 2200 intelligent terminal.
The 4004 (1971) was made possible by the advanced capabilities of the silicon gate technology (SGT) being enhanced through the novel random logic chip design methodology that Faggin created at Intel. It was this new methodology, together with his several design innovations, that allowed him to fit the microprocessor in one small chip. A single-chip microprocessor – an idea that was expected to occur many years in the future – became possible in 1971 by using SGT with two additional innovations: (1) "buried contacts" that doubled the circuit density, and (2) the use of bootstrap loads with 2-phase clocks—previously considered impossible with SGT— that improved the speed 5 times, while reducing the chip area by half compared with metal-gate MOS.
Zilog was the first company entirely dedicated to microprocessors started by Federico Faggin and Ralph Ungermann in November 1974. Faggin was Zilog's President and CEO until the end of 1980 and he conceived and designed the Z80 CPU and its family of programmable peripheral components. He also co-designed the CPU whose project leader was Masatoshi Shima. The Z80-CPU was a major improvement over the 8080, yet it retained software compatibility with it. Much faster and with more than twice as many registers and instructions of the 8080, it was part of a family of components that included several intelligent peripherals (the Z80-PIO, a programmable parallel input-output controller; the Z80-CTC, a programmable counter-timer; the Z80-SIO, programmable serial communications interface controller, and the Z80-DMA, programmable direct memory access controller). This chip family allowed the design of powerful and low-cost microcomputers with performance comparable to minicomputers. The Z80-CPU had a substantially better bus structure and interrupt structure than the 8080 and could interface directly with dynamic RAM, since it included an internal memory-refresh controller. The Z80 was used in many of the early personal computers, as well as in video game systems such as the ColecoVision, Sega Master System and Game Boy. The Z80 is still in volume production in 2017 as a core microprocessor in various systems on a chip.
The Zilog Z8 micro controller (1978) was one of the first single-chip microcontrollers in the market. It integrated an 8-bit CPU, RAM, ROM and I/O facilities, sufficient for many control applications. Faggin conceived the Z8 in 1974, soon after he founded Zilog, but then decided to give priority to the Z80. The Z8 was designed in 1976–78 and is still in volume production today (2017).
In 1986 Faggin co-founded and was CEO of Synaptics until 1999, becoming Chairman from 1999 to 2009. Synaptics was initially dedicated to R&D in artificial neural networks for pattern-recognition applications using analog VLSI. Synaptics introduced the I1000, the world's first single-chip optical character recognizer in 1991. In 1994, Synaptics introduced the touchpad to replace the cumbersome trackball then in use in laptop computers. The touchpad was broadly adopted by the industry. Synaptics also introduced the early touchscreens that were eventually adopted for intelligent phones and tablets; applications that now dominate the market. Faggin came up with the general product idea and led a group of engineers who further refined the idea through many brainstorming sessions. Faggin is a co-inventor of ten patents assigned to Synaptics. He is chairman emeritus of Synaptics.
During his tenure as president and CEO of Foveon, from 2003 to 2008, Faggin revitalized the company and provided a new technological and business direction resulting in image sensors superior in all critical parameters to the best sensors of the competition, while using approximately half the chip size of competing devices. Faggin also oversaw the successful acquisition of Foveon by the Japanese Sigma Corporation in November 2008.
In 2009, the four contributors to the 4004 were inducted as Fellows of the Computer History Museum. Ted Hoff, head of Application Research Department, formulated the architectural proposal and the instruction set with assistance from Stan Mazor and working in conjunction with Busicom's Masatoshi Shima. However none of them was a chip designer and none was familiar with the new Silicon Gate Technology (SGT). The silicon design was the essential missing ingredient to making a microprocessor since everything else was already known. Federico Faggin led the project in a different department without Hoff's and Mazor's involvement. Faggin had invented the original SGT at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968 and provided additional refinements and inventions to make possible the implementation of the 4004 in a single chip. With routine help from Shima, Faggin completed the chip design in January 1971.
Founded in 2011 the "Federico and Elvia Faggin Foundation" supports the scientific study of consciousness at US universities and research institutes. The purpose of the Foundation is to advance the understanding of consciousness through theoretical and experimental research. Faggin's interest in consciousness has his roots in the study of artificial neural networks at Synaptics, a company he started in 1986, that prompted his inquiry into whether or not it is possible to build a conscious computer.
Currently, Federico Faggin is 81 years, 1 months and 27 days old. Federico Faggin will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Friday 1st of December 2023.
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