History of Technology: Federico Faggin
Over several notes on the History of Technology we have focused on the world of microprocessors and, more specifically, on devices like the Motorola 68000 , the Intel 4004 , the Zilog Z80 and Intel 8080 . The latter three devices (Intel 4004 and 8080 and the Zilog Z80) have in common with a person who actually was instrumental in the design and manufacture of microprocessors, Federico Faggin , an Italian physicist who was linked to Fairchild Semiconductor , Intel and Zilog Inc also founded.
Federico Faggin was born in Vicenza (Italy) on December 1, 1941 at the age of 19, after completing his secondary education at the Technical Institute Alessandro Rossi of his city, he went to work in R & D Lab company Olivetti in Borgolombardo (Milan). During this stay, the young Faggin participated in the design, along with other 4 technicians, an experimental electronic computer can handle 4K words of memory. After this stay in Olivetti, barely a year, Faggin decided he wanted to go explore and expand their studies, so i NCOME at the University of Padua to study physical sciences.
Federico Faggin degree in physical sciences with a record sum cum laude and was in college as an assistant professor (1965) where he was responsible for laboratory practical classes for the upper grades and where further work on his doctoral thesis (which submitted in 1966). Once received his Ph.D., Faggin race would face a turning point that would make him one of the fundamental pillars of electronics we know, in 1967, Faggin leave the world of college to move to the private sector, specifically Fairchild Semiconductor subsidiary that held in the town of Agrate Brianza (Milan).
In SGS-Fairchild (which was the name of the subsidiary at the time, now STMicroelectronics), Faggin was the team leader develop the first transistor manufacturing process MOS (Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) and, therefore, the responsible for developing the first set of integrated circuits in this technology. Given this significant milestone, Faggin Fairchild offered the possibility of moving to its headquarters in Palo Alto (California) to join the research team of the company.
In 1968, Federico Faggin started his career in the U.S. (eventually gaining citizenship) and the headquarters of Fairchild Semiconductor was commissioned to design MOS technology with silicon gate self-aligned and lead the team that participated in the project, plus , was commissioned to design the production of the first integrated circuit in using this technology, the Fairchild 3708. With this technology, it was possible to increase the scale of integration and allow development of LSI and VLSI integrated circuits, lowering manufacturing costs and increasing reliability of circuits fabricated.
Federico Faggin left Fairchild Semiconductor in 1970 when he was called by two of the founders of the company and who had left in 1968 to found another. Who were these two entrepreneurs? Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore , founder of Intel. The company operated a project since 1969 that promised to change the rules of the game: a microprocessor, an integrated circuit that would unite all the functionality of the CPU in the same package. From a design Marcian “Ted” Hoff , Faggin Intel resorted to to lead the project would be the first processor of the story: the Intel 4004 and would also be responsible for leading the development of the 3 peripherals accompanying him: the 4001 (ROM), the 4002 (RAM) and 4003 (a shift register).
While at Intel, in addition to participating in the project of the Intel 4004, Faggin developed a working methodology (the Random Logic Design ) which was used in other projects run by the Italian physicist: the Intel 8008 or Intel 8080 . In 1973, Faggin was the general manager of all projects in MOS technology, and under his supervision, were designed and manufactured more than 25 devices.
In 1974, Faggin give a great twist to his life by abandoning Intel and start his own business venture in founding ZiLOG Inc , where he became also the founder with Ralph Ungermann, the CEO and President. His first project was the Z80 , a processor with the Intel 8080 (using the same instructions) that offered better performance than the device of his former employer. The Z80 was a success that was launched in July 1976 and would be assembled in such familiar devices as Sinclair ZX Spectrum (and is still making).
Faggin leave Zilog in 1980 and refounded in 1982 another company, Cygnet Technologies, which would develop the Communication CoSystem, a computer peripheral that unified user communications (voice, data, etc.). In 1986, Federico Faggin founded the company Synaptics, which would serve as CEO until 1999 and ranked as one of the best known companies in the manufacture of mice and touchpads. Synaptics, as well as devices for managing computers, has also developed systems based on neural networks and, in 1991, the first integrated optical circuit capable of recognizing patterns. From 2003-2008, he served Faggin President and CEO of Foveon, a company dedicated to the development of advanced image sensors using CMOS technology.
In addition to chairing a foundation that bears his name and that of his wife, Federico Faggin has won multiple awards and recognitions among which are:
- Gold Medal for Science and Technology, National Research Center of Italy (1988)
- IEEE Award W. Wallace McDowell (1994) for the development of the first silicon gate technology and the world’s first microprocessor
- Place in the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, USA (1996)
- Advanced tenologÃa Kyoto Prize (1997)
- Marconi International Prize (1998)
- Award Robert N. Noyce of the Semiconductor Industry Association (2000)
- Awards for Lifetime Achievement from the European Patent Organization (2006)
- National Medal of Technology and Innovation in the United States (2010)
A legend of the technology sector that is still active as a lecturer, philanthropist and advisor to the direction of Synaptics, which remains bound.