Become a VLSI Designer : Free Tools, without any Degree

Are you interested in a career in VLSI design? But don't have the time or money to go to college? No problem! In this post, I will show you how to become a VLSI designer in 2023 using free tools and no college degree.


Very-Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) design is the process of creating integrated circuits by combining thousands (or even millions) of transistors on a single chip. Learning VLSI design on your own using open source tools is an exciting journey that allows you to delve into the world of digital circuits and chip design. In this comprehensive roadmap, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the process, from understanding digital logic to contributing to open source VLSI projects.

Learn the Basics of Digital Logic:

Start by building a solid foundation in digital logic. Understand concepts like Boolean algebra, logic gates, truth tables, and basic combinational and sequential circuits. You can find numerous free online resources to learn these fundamentals, such as:

  • Khan Academy: Digital Logic and Boolean Algebra
  • NandGame: Learn Logic Design and Basic Gates
  • Digital Logic Design Tutorial by TutorialsPoint

Also Read: 17 step method to land your first job In VLSI

Explore Hardware Description Languages (HDLs):

Hardware Description Languages, like Verilog and VHDL, are essential for describing digital circuits. Focus on Verilog, as it’s widely used in the industry. You can find online courses and tutorials to get started:

  • Verilog Tutorial by ASIC World
  • Verilog HDL: A Guide to Digital Design and Synthesis (Book)

Install and Master Open Source EDA Tools:

EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tools are crucial for designing, simulating, and verifying digital circuits. Popular open source EDA tools include:

  • Yosys: RTL synthesis and formal verification
  • iVerilog: Verilog simulation and synthesis
  • Magic: Layout tool for chip design
  • Opentimer: Static timing analysis tool

Design Simple Digital Circuits:

Apply your knowledge by designing basic digital circuits using Verilog and EDA tools. Start with projects like:

  • Binary Adder
  • Multiplexer and Demultiplexer
  • Shift Registers
  • Finite State Machines (FSMs)

Progress to Complex Circuit Design:

Gradually move on to more complex designs as your skills improve. Work on projects involving:

  • Memory design (e.g., SRAM cells)
  • Finite State Machine with Datapath (FSMD) design
  • Simple microprocessor architecture
  • FPGA-based designs

Engage in Online Communities and Forums:

Join online platforms to connect with fellow VLSI enthusiasts and professionals. Participate in discussions, ask questions, and share your knowledge. Some active communities include:

  • Reddit’s r/VLSI
  • Stack Exchange: Electrical Engineering
  • VLSI Design and Verification LinkedIn group
  • TechoVedas

Contribute to Open Source Projects:

Gain practical experience and give back to the community by contributing to open source VLSI projects. Some notable projects include:

  • Qflow: Digital synthesis and place-and-route flow
  • SkyWater Open Source PDK: Process design kit for open source chips
  • OpenROAD: Chip design and optimization


Learning VLSI design using open source tools is an empowering and rewarding journey. By following this comprehensive roadmap, you can gradually build your skills from the basics of digital logic to designing complex digital circuits and contributing to open source projects. Stay curious, persistent, and engaged with the VLSI community to continuously learn and excel in the field of chip design. Happy learning!

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
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