Research Projects at Microprocessor Lab
The ICTP-INFN Microprocessor Laboratory is not a conventional Microprocessor laboratory: as part of an institution whose main interest is research in physics, the Laboratory chooses to solve problems that have basic scientific interest. It tries to avoid choosing problems that fit technologies already mastered. By all means, it tries to avoid becoming an electronic shop or service. It always tries to enhance the group problem solving ability of the participating scientists. In every case, only after theoretical aspects have been solved, a particular technology or architecture is chosen. We try to use as much as possible electronic design tools in the public domain in order to allow Third World scientists to continue working at the same level when back home.
In spite of the above argument, the laboratory has cutting-edge technological alternatives for the design of instrumentation. They span from classical board-level design using microprocessors or programmable hardware logic, to the design of integrated circuits, let they be gate arrays, optimized gate arrays or full custom designs. During the whole process of research and development, the benefits of computer design tools are emphasized. The use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and simulation software is prevalent until the final stages of the work, saving time and funds, and avoiding design errors that are controlled and checked by the software tools.
The purpose of the Development Projects is to train, through research, scientists from developing countries. Since projects are real and important, an ideal environment is created to sharpen the problem solving abilities of the participating scientists.
Training Third World scientists through real projects is an ambitious goal, since scientists involved in the projects need adequate funds and facilities to work properly. Besides, the learning and adaptation period lengthens the duration of the stage beyond what is normal for scientists working with other research groups.
Presently the ICTP-INFN Microprocessor Laboratory carries out research in the following main Experiments and Projects: