Voltage and Timing Adaptation for Variation and Aging Tolerance in Nanometer VLSI Circuits
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Process variations and circuit aging continue to be main challenges to the power-efficiency of VLSI circuits, as considerable power budget must be allocated at design time to mitigate timing variations. Modern designs incorporate adaptive techniques for variation compensation to reduce the extra power consumption. The efficiency of existing adaptive approaches, however, is often significantly attenuated by the fine-grained nature of variations in nanometer technology such as random dopant fluctuation, litho-variation, and different rates of transistor degradation due to non-uniform activity factors. This dissertation addresses the limitations from existing adaptation techniques, and proposes new adaptive approaches to effectively compensate the fine-grained variations. Adaptive supply voltage (ASV) is one of the effective adaptation approaches for power-performance tuning. ASV has advantages on controlling dynamic and leakage power, while voltage generation and delivery overheads from conventional ASV systems make their application to mitigate fine-grained variations demanding. This dissertation presents a dual-level ASV system which provides ASV at both coarse-grained and fine-grained level, and has limited power routing overhead. Significant power reduction from our dual-ASV system demonstrates its superiority over existing approaches. Another novel technique on supply voltage adaptation for variation resilience in VLSI interconnects is proposed. A programmable boostable repeater design boosts switching speed by raising its internal voltage rail transiently and autonomously, and achieves fine-grained voltage adaptation without stand-alone voltage regulators or additional power grid. Since interconnect is a widely recognized bottleneck to chip performance and tremendous repeaters are employed on chip designs, boostable repeater has plenty of chances to improve system robustness. A low cost scheme for delay variation detection is essential to compose an efficient adaptation system. This dissertation presents an area-efficient built-in delay testing scheme which exploits BIST SCAN architecture and dynamic clock skew control. Using this built-in delay testing scheme, a fine-grained adaptation system composed of the proposed boostable repeater design and adaptive clock skew control is proposed, and demonstrated to mitigate process variation and aging induced timing degradations in a power as well as area efficient manner.
Shim, Kyu-Nam 1978- (2012). Voltage and Timing Adaptation for Variation and Aging Tolerance in Nanometer VLSI Circuits. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from