It should be one of those hardest courses of all the analog courses offered according to me. Please do think twice before taking it as it expects a lot of proficiency other than analog too. Please do not take this course if this would be your first circuit design course. People with a good analog background also find it difficult. This course is usually offered only in the fall semester. so, It is better to take this course in the 3rd semester of your MS/Ph.D. program ( If you have joined in Fall) after taking Microwave circuits and Communication Circuits in the spring semester which covers the Transmission Lines, S parameters and RF stuff unless you are already through with it.
The Instructors Bodhisatwa Sadhu and Wooram Lee share the course with the first half taken by Prof. Sadhu covering Phased Array Architectures, Antennas, Passive Elements, Resonators (VCO and Phase Noise). The rest is covered by Prof. Lee which involves Active Devices, Frequency Multipliers, Transmission Lines, Amplifiers, LNAs, Mixers, and Power Amplifiers. The course content mostly would contain various advances in the design and would have a lot of IEEE research paper content. The basics are assumed to be known and would not be dealt with in detail. They are good teachers and have designed most blocks that they teach. But, Please do not have the impression that you will be taught from the basics. They assume that you know the basic stuff. The strength of this class is also not great due to this reason.
I believe to take full advantage of the course, Minimum Requirements for you to understand lectures, you need to know the following:
1.Transmission lines* ( Very Important, It is top priority), s parameters, smith charts: For Understanding matching in Millimeter-wave frequencies in every important block ( LNA, Mixer, PA, Frequency Multiplier )
2.Antenna beamforming theory: To understand Phase Array Architecture and beamforming. This is covered in the initial lectures. However, they don't cover it well for you to thoroughly understand.
3. A basic understanding of the blocks in the RF transceiver chain such as LNA, Mixer, PA as it would not be covered from the basics.
7 HWs this semester. They intend to have one Homework every 10 days/2 weeks. It can depend on the Professor. Professor Sadhu's HWs are reasonable and can be thought-provoking and good to learn. Professor Lee's HWs would be really hard to understand and solve and would involve cadence simulations and will be like a design problem. It takes a lot of time to get through with the HWs at least the second half. Good Luck with the course and I wish you get a good and reasonable TA which would be really helpful unlike for us.
A Design Project involving Voltage Controlled Oscillator Design with relatively challenging Specifications ( Low Phase Noise and High Tuning Range) at a frequency of 60GHz in the IBM 90nm PDK. The Design involved Cadence in which you do Schematic Design, Layout Design with DRC LVS Clean, PEX Extraction and post-layout simulations to meet specifications. The inductor was to be custom-designed and inductance to be estimated using Keysight's ADS Momentum Tool with the PDK's Substrate. The interconnect extraction ( EM Simulations ) was also to be done in the ADS Momentum. The project expects you to have good proficiency in the complete IC design cycle and the use of cadence. It also takes a lot of your time and effort to finish the project. Please have in mind to take relatively easy/less time-consuming courses along this course to have a peaceful semester.
Midterm: 35% Final: 35%
The midterms and Finals are an application of the material in the class and were relatively easy compared to the complexity of the material thought in class. Please completely go through the class material and have a good sense of understanding to perform well. It is not hard to do well in exams if you understand the stuff thought in class. But, the irony is it is really difficult to follow thoroughly in this class due to its complexity even for people with a decent background in analog.