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Chairholder Profile

Vaughn Betz

Vaughn Betz

The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Toronto

Chair Title

NSERC/Altera Industrial Research Chair in Programmable Silicon

Chair Program

Industrial Research Chairs Program


Associate Chairholder since 2011


Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are a major type of integrated circuit, which have the unique characteristic that their function can be completely reprogrammed (essentially rewiring parts of the chip) after the device is fabricated. This makes FPGAs suitable for an extremely wide variety of purposes, and they are extensively used in many areas including Internet routers, MRIs, automotive control systems, and video-processing systems. As integrated circuit fabrication improves by fabricating exponentially more transistors on a single chip, there is a tremendous opportunity to create even more capable FPGAs that can enable, among other things, faster communications, better medical diagnostics and entirely new products.

This research seeks to improve FPGAs so that they can fully exploit the upcoming generations of integrated circuit fabrication technology. Important questions to be addressed include: How do we make programmable routing that is reliable, fast and easy for designers to use, despite the fact that the fabrication technology is becoming increasingly unreliable and wires are becoming slower? What new function blocks should be included in future FPGAs to improve their speed and power? How do we make computer-aided design (CAD) tools that can translate an engineering design into the hundreds of millions of settings to be programmed into these future, huge FPGAs, without requiring excessive computation time?

The Chairholder, Vaughn Betz, comes from an executive position in the FPGA industry. He co-founded a successful FPGA software start-up, and has an extensive publication record and more than 60 U.S. patents. He is an architect of one of the leading industrial FPGA device families, and of one of the leading industrial CAD systems used to map designs into FPGAs. The Chair position will enable collaboration with the industrial partner, Altera Corporation, which is one of the two leading FPGA companies and has a major research and development centre located in downtown Toronto. The research results from this Chair will enable both better FPGA chips and CAD software, benefiting not only FPGA companies but also the extremely wide variety of hardware designers who use FPGAs in their systems. The research will train many highly qualified personnel who will be in demand both by FPGA companies and by systems companies that use FPGAs, producing significant economic benefits for Canada in this important industry.


  • Altera Corporation

Contact Information

The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Toronto
10 Kings College Rd.
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 3G4

Tel.: 416-978-3007
Fax: 416-946-8734

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