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Low-Power Clocking and Circuit Techniques for Leakage and Process Variation Compensation
Linköping University, Department of Electrical Engineering, Electronic Devices. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. (Elektroniska komponenter)
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Over the last four decades the integrated circuit industry has evolved in a tremendous pace. This success has been driven by the scaling of device sizes leading to higher and higher integration capability, which have enabled more functionality and higher performance. The impressive evolution of modern high-performance microprocessors have resulted in chips with over a billion transistors as well as multi-GHz clock frequencies. As the silicon integrated circuit industry moves further into the nanometer regime, scaling of device sizes is still predicted to continue at least into the near future. However, there are a number of challenges to overcome to be able to continue the increase of integration at the same pace. Three of the major challenges are increasing power dissipation due to clocking of synchronous circuit, increasing leakage currents causing growing static power dissipation and reduced circuit robustness, and finally increasing spread in circuit parameters due to physical limitations in the manufacturing process. This thesis presents a number of circuit techniques that aims to help in all three of the mentioned challenges.Power dissipation related to the clock generation and distribution is identified as the dominating contributor of the total active power dissipation for multi-GHz systems. As the complexity and size of synchronous systems continues to increase, clock power will also increase. This makes novel power reduction techniques absolutely crucial in future VLSI design. In this thesis an energy recovering clocking technique aimed at reducing the total chip clock power is presented. Based on theoretical analysis the technique is shown to enable considerable clock power savings. Moreover, the impact of the proposed technique on conventional flip-flop topologies is studied. Measurements on an experimental chip design proves the technique, and shows more than 56% lower clock power compared to conventional clock distribution techniques at clock frequencies up to 1.76 GHz.Static leakage power dissipation is a considerable contributor to the total power dissipation. This power is dissipated even for circuits that are idle and not contributing to the operation. Hence, with increasing number of transistors on each chip, circuit techniques which reduce the static leakage currents are necessary. In this thesis a technique is discussed which reduces the static leakage current in a microcode ROM resulting in 30% reduction of the leakage power with no area or performance penalty.Apart from increasing static power dissipation the increasing leakage currents also impact the robustness constraints of the circuits. This is important for regenerative circuits like flip-flops and latches where a changed state due to leakage will lead to loss of functionality. This is a serious issue especially for high-performance dynamic circuits, which are attractive in order to limit the clock load in the design. However, with the increasing leakage the robustness of dynamic circuits reduces dramatically. To improve the leakage robustness for sub-90 nm low clock load dynamic flip-flops, a novel keeper technique is proposed. The proposed keeper utilizes a scalable and simple leakage compensation technique, which is implemented on a reconfigurable flip-flop. At normal clock frequencies the flip-flop is configured in dynamic mode, and reduces the clock power by 25% due to the lower clock load. During any low-frequency operation, the flip-flop is configured as a static flip-flop retaining full functional robustness.As scaling continues further towards the fundamental atomistic limits, several challenges arise for continuing industrial device integration. Large inaccuracies in lithography process, impurities in manufacturing, and reduced control of dopant levels during implantation all cause increasing statistical spread of performance, power, and robustness of the devices. In order to compensate the impact of the increasingly large process variations on latches and flip-flops, a reconfigurable keeper technique is presented in this thesis. In contrast to the traditional design for worst-case process corners, a variable keeper circuit is utilized. The proposed reconfigurable keeper preserves the robustness of storage nodes across the process corners without degrading the overall chip performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2008. , 188 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1197
Keyword [en]
Low-power, resonant clocking, multi-GHz, CMOS, leakage tolerance, low-leakage techniques, process variation, process variation compensation
National Category
Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-12495ISBN: 978-91-7393-847-1OAI: diva2:233
Public defence
2008-08-29, Visionen, B-huset, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2008-09-10 Created: 2008-09-08 Last updated: 2009-04-29Bibliographically approved

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