IEEE Journal on Solid-State Circuits Marks 50 Years

It continues to be one of the most cited sources in its field

22 November 2016

For five decades now, the monthly IEEE Journal on Solid-State Circuits has been the trusted go-to publication for professionals involved with designing and fabricating integrated circuits. The JSSC has covered every advancement in the field, including analog and CMOS ICs, data converters, digital processors and memories, and software-defined wireless receivers and transmitters for millimeter-wave communications.

After 50 years, it’s still influential. The JSSC is the fourth-most downloaded technical journal from the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. For many years it was ranked as the top IEEE journal in its field by Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports, which examines the influence and impact of scholarly research journals. In 2015, the latest year for which statistics are available, JCR ranked the publication 23rd among 25 journals in electrical and electronic engineering by impact factor—the average number of times articles from a journal published in the previous two years were cited by other authors. JSSC is also frequently cited in U.S. and foreign patent applications.

“The journal has captured the entire history of chip development,” says IEEE Fellow Asad Abidi, its editor in chief from 1992 to 1995. “It publishes articles on the nuts and bolts of building circuits as well as on cutting-edge technology, all written by leaders in the field.”

Among its authors is IEEE Life Fellow Robert H. Dennard, inventor of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and recipient of the 2009 IEEE Medal of Honor. Dennard’s 1974 paper “Design of Ion-Implanted MOSFETs with Very Small Physical Dimensions” is still the journal’s most-cited article, with more than 2,300 citations to date. Other authors are 2005 IEEE Medal of Honor recipient and Fellow James D. Meindl, the developer of micropower ICs for portable military equipment, and 1998 IEEE Medal of Honor recipient Donald O. Pederson, an IEEE Fellow and the man behind the IC computer simulation program SPICE.

The JSSC got its start because IEEE didn’t have a home for authors to publish the papers being presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference. Still IEEE’s preeminent conference in the field, ISSCC debuted in 1955. Nearly 3,000 people attended the 2016 conference.

Pederson’s “The Origin of the Journal, the Council, and the Conference of Solid-State Circuits,” in the journal’s April 1984 edition, explored the JSSC’s history, as did “IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits Through the Years: From Its Beginnings in 1966 Until 2016,” which was written by the publication’s second editor in chief, IEEE Fellow David A. Hodges. The latter appeared in this year’s fall issue of IEEE Solid-State Circuits Magazine.

Back in 1963, Pederson, Meindl, and other IEEE volunteers and groups took on the job of launching a journal.

SUCCESSFUL START

The first edition in September 1966 drew heavily from papers presented at the ISSCC, then 11 years old. Conference attendees that year included prominent engineers and managers from industry, academia, and government laboratories.

Starting in 1958, the conference had published a Digest of Technical Papers, which contained a brief summary of each paper presented. By the early 1960s, those summaries had grown to a page of text, with a second page for figures if needed. Before long, the authors began expanding their digests to full-length papers and submitting them to IEEE journals. Those papers typically were rejected, though, because reviewers felt the content was outside their publication’s scope. Members of several IEEE societies and groups became concerned that the papers were not being published and, led by Pederson, took action.

“Here was a premier conference, yet there was no archival journal for this field,” Pederson wrote in his 1984 article. “If published at all, these papers were in nonarchival trade journals.”

But first the group needed an IEEE society to sponsor the new journal. None was quite the right fit. Accordingly, the IEEE Circuits and Systems, Computer, Electron Devices, and Microwave Theory and Techniques societies stepped up and formed the Solid-State Circuits Council, the forerunner of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society. (Today, the society has more than 9,800 members, making it the 11th largest of IEEE’s 39 societies.) The council’s mandate was to launch a journal, but it first needed to set policy, establish publication standards and formats, choose an editor in chief, establish a team of associate editors, and coordinate the editorial work.

Presenters of papers at the ISSCC were not used to writing for a peer-reviewed scholarly publication. It fell to Meindl, the first JSSC editor, to help them. He is credited with setting the tone of the journal, establishing its high standards, and regularly publishing papers describing major innovations in solid-state circuits. He was diligent in his search for enough quality papers for those first issues, according to Pederson’s article. And he might have done a lot of hand-holding.

“He worked with the authors to publish their good contributions in spite of the press of their dealing on a daily basis with the exploding technology that was solid-state circuits and devices,” Pederson wrote.

The first issue had 11 papers, all from the February, 1966 ISSCC. Initially a quarterly, the journal went bimonthly in 1969 and monthly in 1991. Eventually, the journal accepted submissions from authors who weren’t associated with the conference.

“The JSSC editorial policy,” Hodges wrote, “has always focused on industry needs and on realizable implementations in the face of constraints imposed by IC technology.”

QUALITY IS KEY

Subsequent editors in chief say upholding the high standards set by Meindl and other early editors was their top priority.

“The journal stands for quality,” says Jan Craninckx, the current editor in chief. “We have a rigorous review process, and many articles get rejected. I’m still surprised when one of mine gets published.” Craninckx is on the technical staff at Imec, the research institute in Leuven, Belgium, that specializes in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.

“All the editors, including myself, consider it an honor to hold the position,” he says. “I still get excited when a new issue comes out.”

IEEE Fellow Bruce Wooley, editor in chief from 1986 to 1989 and a past president of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society, points to an important reason the journal has been able to maintain its popularity: “It’s geared to people in industry and those advancing the technology.

“And,” Wooley adds, “the turnaround time from manuscript to publication is remarkably fast for an archival publication—often nine months or less."

WHAT’S NEW

This year the JSSC began accepting what it calls “Short Papers” on new ideas in solid-state circuits. They are four- to six-page articles, instead of the typical 7- to 15-page manuscripts. They go through the same rigorous peer-review process as the regular-length manuscripts.

Society members can now read the publication on e-readers and mobile devices using the BrowZine app for scholarly journals, available on the Apple App and Google Play stores. From the app, search for the "IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society SSCS” and, when prompted to sign in, enter your IEEE Xplore username and password.

“The journal has a prestigious historical value not only to our society but also for the impact and success of the IEEE,” says Jan Van der Spiegel, president of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society. “It has long provided us with journalistic excellence and has been able to provide members with top-notch research in solid-state circuits. Our society is proud to be the patron of this important body of work.”

Authors who want to publish papers in the journal can find instructions and guidelines on the IEEE Solid-State Circuit’s Society’s website.

The next ISSCC is scheduled for 5 to 9 February in San Francisco.

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