- IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal
An influential leader during a critical time in the semiconductor and electronics industry, Susumu Kohyama’s role in the shift to CMOS helped enable the continuous scaling of semiconductor devices, leading to higher performance and lower power consumption with high packing density. Kohyama’s pioneering efforts at Toshiba in the late 1970s transformed the embryonic low-power, low-yielding CMOS process to a mass production technology. Conversion to CMOS was critical to the industry, avoiding the serious chip power problems that would have limited performance and integration level. As one of the early CMOS manufacturers, Toshiba was developing CMOS integrated circuits for the wristwatch and calculator market in 1970s, but the while the technology used in these devices was low power, it was slow and didn’t provide much of a scaling benefit. Kohyama led the CMOS static-random-access memory projects inside Toshiba and provided CMOS technology with the ability to cover the high-performance market as well, leading to immense growth of the semiconductor industry. He also helped develop some of the most aggressive and advanced chips built during the 1980s and 1990s, ranging from static-random-access memories to the Sony PlayStation 2 chips (a forerunner of today’s graphics processing units), as well as the MIPS R8000, the fastest and most sophisticated microprocessor of its time. He also drove the standardization of circuit design methodology, incorporating electronic design automation (EDA) tools, intellectual-property-based design, and hardware design language (HDL). This innovative work has improved productivity and expedited design capability, allowing complex systems and circuits containing over a billion transistors. He has also been instrumental in establishing strategic business and technology development alliances with many of the world’s leading companies for memory, logic, EDA, and equipment. These alliances have led to the dissemination of leading-edge technology and increased semiconductor business opportunities at a significantly reduced cost with shared resources.
An IEEE member and recipient of the 1982 R&D 100 Award, Kohyama is president and chief executive officer of K Associates, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.