Home » UK AI research hub ‘APRIL’ to deliver next-generation technology

UK AI research hub ‘APRIL’ to deliver next-generation technology

The AI Hub for Productive Research and Innovation in Electronics (APRIL) will bring the benefits of AI to the UK electronics industry.

APRIL is one of nine new AI research hubs across the country that will develop AI tools to accelerate the development of key components. These include new semiconductor materials, integrated circuits, complex microchip designs, and system architectures.

The research should lead to faster, cheaper, greener, and overall more power-efficient electronics.

The new hubs are supported by £80m in new funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The APRIL AI research hub will be led by Edinburgh’s Regius Chair of Engineering, Professor Themis Prodromakis. The University of Glasgow is also set to support the project’s efforts.

Five main pillars spanning the semiconductor innovation chain

The research hub will be structured with five main pillars across the semiconductor innovation chain. The pillars are materials discovery, device design, system and circuit design, testing and verification, and modelling.

The modelling work, which will provide a link between all the work packages, will be led by Professor Vihar Georgiev, Professor of Nanoelectronics at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Georgiev, Professor also leader of DeepNano Group at the University of Glasgow, said, “This hub is a very exciting opportunity to nurture new, cutting-edge breakthroughs for the electronics industry not only in the UK but also globally.

“I am pleased to be part of the APRIL research hub and lead the modelling activities, which have the potential to boost the UK’s productivity and innovation in an increasingly valuable sector of industry.”

APRIL’s simulation and modelling work package

A team from Glasgow University, led by Georgiev, will contribute to APRIL’s simulation and modelling and AI-driven IC design work package, helping to develop sophisticated digital twins. These will be capable of simulating the performance of key semiconductor production systems under a range of different conditions.

As well as this, the digital twins developed by the team will be able to realise effective and efficient IC building block design automation.

The models will leverage data gathered through extensive automated testing routines and inform new device design and fabrication methods.

The AI-driven design techniques will obtain a higher performance compared to human experts using a shorter design time.

Opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration

The AI research hub will leverage advanced AI in an integrated framework to boost the rate at which new semiconductor technologies can mature to the point where they are practical for adoption in real-world designs.

As well as the five pillars, APRIL will work on five key capabilities that will enable the delivery of the pillar tasks: data collection, AI model selection, AI model training, system integration, and data security.

The structure formed at the intersection of the innovation chain will promote the efficient division of labour and create opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration.