IBM J. Res. Dev

Ultralow-voltage minimum-energy CMOS

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Energy efficiency has become a ubiquitous design requirement for digital circuits. Aggressive supply-voltage scaling has emerged as the most effective way to reduce energy use. In this work, we review circuit behavior at low voltages, specifically in the subthreshold (Vdd < Vth) regime, and suggest new strategies for energy-efficient design. We begin with a study at the device level, and we show that extreme sensitivity to the supply and threshold voltages complicates subthreshold design. The effects of this sensitivity can be minimized through simple device modifications and new device geometries. At the circuit level, we review the energy characteristics of subthreshold logic and SRAM circuits, and demonstrate that energy efficiency relies on the balance between dynamic and leakage energies, with process variability playing a key role in both energy efficiency and robustness. We Continue the study of energy-efficient design by broadening our scope to the architectural level. We discuss the energy benefits of techniques such as multiple-threshold CMOS (MTCMOS) and adaptive body biasing (ABB), and we also consider the performance benefits of multiprocessor design at ultralow supply voltages. © Copyright 2006 by International Business Machines Corporation.