• SoC & Interconnect: Power optimization

Power Optimization

The increasing speed and complexity of today’s designs implies a significant increase in the power consumption of very-large-scale integration (VLSI) chips. To meet this challenge, researchers have developed many different design techniques to reduce power. The complexity of today’s ICs, with over 100 million transistors, clocked at over 1 GHz, means manual power optimization would be hopelessly slow and all too likely to contain errors. Computer-aided design (CAD) tools and methodologies are mandatory.

One of the key features that led to the success of complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, technology was its intrinsic low-power consumption. This meant that circuit designers and electronic design automation (EDA) tools could afford to concentrate on maximizing circuit performance and minimizing circuit area. Another interesting feature of CMOS technology is its nice scaling properties, which has permitted a steady decrease in the feature size (see Moore's law), allowing for more and more complex systems on a single chip, working at higher clock frequencies. Power consumption concerns came into play with the appearance of the first portable electronic systems in the late 1980s. In this market, battery lifetime is a decisive factor for the commercial success of the product. Another fact that became apparent at about the same time was that the increasing integration of more active elements per die area would lead to prohibitively large-energy consumption of an integrated circuit. A high absolute level of power is not only undesirable for economic and environmental reasons, but it also creates the problem of heat dissipation. In order to keep the device working at acceptable temperature levels, excessive heat may require expensive heat removal systems.

These factors have contributed to the rise of power as a major design parameter on par with performance and die size. In fact, power consumption is regarded as the limiting factor in the continuing scaling of CMOS technology. To respond to this challenge, in the last decade or so, intensive research has been put into developing computed-aided design (CAD) tools that address the problem of power optimization. Initial efforts were directed to circuit and logic-level tools because at this level CAD tools were more mature and there was a better handle on the issues. Today, most of the research for CAD tools targets system or architectural level optimization, which potentially have a higher overall impact, given the breadth of their application.

Together with optimization tools, efficient techniques for power estimation are required, both as an absolute indicator that the circuit’s consumption meets some target value and as a relative indicator of the power merits of different alternatives during design space exploration.


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Created by Vishal E on 2017/12/03 23:07