Anantha Chandrakasan

Panelist: “An Evening of Innovation” Sponsored by Qualcomm


Regarded as one best-known circuits and systems designers, Anantha Chandrakasan’s innovations in the design and implementation of energy-efficient integrated circuits and systems have played a fundamental role in enabling ultralow-power computers, wireless sensors, and personal multimedia terminals. Low-power circuit design techniques are essential in current and future high-performance computing and communication integrated circuits as power density increases relentlessly due to continuous downscaling of circuit geometries prescribed by Moore’s Law. Chandrakasan had the vision early on, at the time when few researchers paid attention to power dissipation but were focused on speed and performance, to explore approaches to reduce power dissipation, which today is still the main bottleneck in all types of circuits and systems. In 1994, he presented a complete low-power chip set for multimedia applications requiring just 5 mW of power, at a time when chips required 100 times that level. A radical concept that is now commonplace, the work resulted in a tablet computer that was the precursor to today’s handheld multimedia devices. This achievement was followed by a steady stream of innovations including Dynamic Voltage/Frequency Scaling (DVFS); ambient energy scavenging; ultra-low-voltage and power SRAM; an ultra-low-power, ultra-wide-bandwidth receiver; energy-efficient protocols and low-power speech recognition; and GAZELLE, a low-latency framework for secure neural network inference. He leads MIT’s Energy-Efficient Circuits and Systems Group, whose research projects have addressed ultra-low-power circuit and system design, energy harvesting, energy-efficient RF circuits, hardware security, energy-efficient multimedia processing, and platforms for ultra-low-power biomedical electronics. In addition to his research achievements, Chandraksan is an esteemed leader and dedicated educator at MIT. As head of MIT’s department of electrical engineering and computer science from 2011–17, he spearheaded a number of initiatives including the creation of the Rising Stars program, which has been very successful in encouraging women to pursue academic careers in engineering. The program now rotates among several universities including Stanford and California-Berkeley. A significant number of Rising Stars participants have obtained faculty positions in the U.S.

An IEEE Fellow and recipient of the 2013 IEEE Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits, Chandrakasan is currently dean of the School of Engineering, and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.