VLSI INterview questions and answers

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...that seem to be at the level of a new community college graduate at best, a lot of them are just outright wrong or, while perhaps technically correct, definitely miss the gist of the question:

What is noise figure? The level of noise that a low-noise amplifier (LNA) is capable of discriminating. (Ummm... no, not really...) What does balanced amplifier consist of? Two amplifiers stuck together. (Well, I suppose that's one way, if you missed the entire point of true differential circuit design...) What's the relation between dB and change of signal? +3 dB is 2 times bigger, +10 dB is 10 times bigger. (What sort of signal do you mean? Power? Field strength or potential?) What are saw filters used for? Very low frequency filtering. (I don't think so! A "saw" filter is probably used for cutting wood anyway... now, if you want to talk about SAW filters...) What's a superheterodyne receiver? It's a receiver that uses two mixers in a row. (The door is that way...)

When I interview people, someone who admits they just don't know an answer is much better off than someone who's clearly trying to B.S. it. On the other hand, if I were a potential hire and someone seriously asked me the sorts of questions above, I can't imagine wanting to work there anyway...


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Joel Koltner

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