Modeling, Design and Optimization of IC Power Delivery with On-Chip Regulation
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As IC technology continues to follow the Moore’s Law, IC designers have been constantly challenged with power delivery issues. While useful power must be reliably delivered to the on-die functional circuits to fulfill the desired functionality and performance, additional power overheads arise due to the loss associated with voltage conversion and parasitic resistance in the metal wires. Hence, one of the key IC power delivery design challenges is to develop voltage conversion/regulation circuits and the corresponding design strategies to provide a guaranteed level of power integrity while achieving high power efficiency and low area overhead. On-chip voltage regulation, a significant ongoing design trend, offers appealing active supply noise suppression close to the loads and is well positioned to address many power delivery challenges. However, to realize the full potential of on-chip voltage regulation requires systemic optimization of and tradeoffs among settling time, steady-state error, power supply noise, power efficiency, stability and area overhead, which are the key focuses of this dissertation. First, we develop new low-dropout voltage regulators (LDOs) that are well optimized for low power applications. To this end, dropout voltage, bias current and speed are important competing design objectives. This dissertation presents new flipped voltage follower (FVF) based topologies of on-chip voltage regulators that handle ultra-fast load transients in nanoseconds while achieving significant improvement on bias current consumption. An active frequency compensation is embedded to achieve high area efficiency by employing a smaller amount of compensation capacitors, the major silicon area contributor. Furthermore, in one of the proposed topologies an auxiliary digital feedback loop is employed in order to lower quiescent power consumption further. Second, coping with supply noise is becoming increasingly more difficult as design complexity grows, which leads to increased spatial and temporal load heterogeneity, and hence larger voltage variations in a given power domain. Addressing this challenge through a distributed methodology wherein multiple voltage regulators are placed across the same voltage domain is particularly promising. This distributive nature allows for even faster suppression of multiple hot spots by the nearby regulators within the power domain and can significantly boost power integrity. Nevertheless, reasoning about the stability of such distributively regulated power networks becomes rather complicated as a result of complex interactions between multiple active regulators and the large passive subnetwork. Coping with this stability challenge requires new theory and stability-ensuring design practice, as targeted by this dissertation. For the first time, we adopt and develop a hybrid stability framework for large power delivery networks with distributed voltage regulation. This framework is local in the sense that both the checking and assurance of network stability can be dealt with on the basis of each individual voltage regulator, leading to feasible design of large power delivery networks that would be computationally impossible otherwise. Accordingly, we propose a new hybrid stability margin concept, examine its tradeoffs with power efficiency, supply noise and silicon area, and demonstrate the resulted key design implications pertaining to new stability-ensuring LDO circuit design techniques and circuit topologies. Finally, we develop an automated hybrid stability design flow that is computationally efficient and provides a practical guarantee of network stability.
Power Delivery Network
Lai, Suming (2014). Modeling, Design and Optimization of IC Power Delivery with On-Chip Regulation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from