DAC 2003
Conference paper

Pushing ASIC performance in a power envelope

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Power dissipation is becoming the most challenging design constraint in nanometer technologies. Among various design implementation schemes, standard cell ASICs offer the best power efficiency for high-performance applications. The flexibility of ASICs allow for the use of multiple voltages and multiple thresholds to match the performance of critical regions to their timing constraints, and minimize the power everywhere else. We explore the trade-off between multiple supply voltages and multiple threshold voltages in the optimization of dynamic and static power. The use of multiple supply voltages presents some unique physical and electrical challenges. Level shifters need to be introduced between the various voltage regions. Several level shifter implementations will be shown. The physical layout needs to be designed to ensure the efficient delivery of the correct voltage to various voltage regions. More flexibility can be gained by using appropriate level shifters. We will discuss optimization techniques such as clock skew scheduling which can be effectively used to push performance in a power neutral way.