Practical Techniques for Improving Performance and Evaluating Security on Circuit Designs
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As the modern semiconductor technology approaches to nanometer era, integrated circuits (ICs) are facing more and more challenges in meeting performance demand and security. With the expansion of markets in mobile and consumer electronics, the increasing demands require much faster delivery of reliable and secure IC products. In order to improve the performance and evaluate the security of emerging circuits, we present three practical techniques on approximate computing, split manufacturing and analog layout automation. Approximate computing is a promising approach for low-power IC design. Although a few accuracy-configurable adder (ACA) designs have been developed in the past, these designs tend to incur large area overheads as they rely on either redundant computing or complicated carry prediction. We investigate a simple ACA design that contains no redundancy or error detection/correction circuitry and uses very simple carry prediction. The simulation results show that our design dominates the latest previous work on accuracy-delay-power tradeoff while using 39% less area. One variant of this design provides finer-grained and larger tunability than that of the previous works. Moreover, we propose a delay-adaptive self-configuration technique to further improve the accuracy-delay-power tradeoff. Split manufacturing prevents attacks from an untrusted foundry. The untrusted foundry has front-end-of-line (FEOL) layout and the original circuit netlist and attempts to identify critical components on the layout for Trojan insertion. Although defense methods for this scenario have been developed, the corresponding attack technique is not well explored. Hence, the defense methods are mostly evaluated with the k-security metric without actual attacks. We develop a new attack technique based on structural pattern matching. Experimental comparison with existing attack shows that the new attack technique achieves about the same success rate with much faster speed for cases without the k-security defense, and has a much better success rate at the same runtime for cases with the k-security defense. The results offer an alternative and practical interpretation for k-security in split manufacturing. Analog layout automation is still far behind its digital counterpart. We develop the layout automation framework for analog/mixed-signal ICs. A hierarchical layout synthesis flow which works in bottom-up manner is presented. To ensure the qualified layouts for better circuit performance, we use the constraint-driven placement and routing methodology which employs the expert knowledge via design constraints. The constraint-driven placement uses simulated annealing process to find the optimal solution. The packing represented by sequence pairs and constraint graphs can simultaneously handle different kinds of placement constraints. The constraint-driven routing consists of two stages, integer linear programming (ILP) based global routing and sequential detailed routing. The experiment results demonstrate that our flow can handle complicated hierarchical designs with multiple design constraints. Furthermore, the placement performance can be further improved by using mixed-size block placement which works on large blocks in priority.
electronic design automation
analog layout synthesis
Xu, Wenbin (2019). Practical Techniques for Improving Performance and Evaluating Security on Circuit Designs. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from