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Power and thermal effects of SRAM vs. latch-mux design styles and clock gating choices

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6 Author(s)
Yingmin Li ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Virginia Univ., Charlottesville, VA, USA ; Hempstead, M. ; Mauro, P. ; Brooks, D.
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This paper studies the impact on energy efficiency and thermal behavior of design style and clock-gating style in queue and array structures. These structures are major sources of power dissipation, and both design styles and various clock gating schemes can be found in modern, high-performance processors. Although some work in the circuits domain has explored these issues from a power perspective, thermal treatments are less common, and we are not aware of any work in the architecture domain. We study both SRAM and latch and multiplexer ("latch-mux") designs and their associated clock-gating options. Using circuit-level simulations of both design styles, we derive power-dissipation ratios which are then used in cycle-level power/performance/thermal simulations. We find that even though the "unconstrained" power of SRAM designs is always better than latch-mux designs, latch-mux designs dissipate less power in practice when a structure's average occupancy is low but access rate is high, especially when "stall gating" is used to minimize switching power. We also find that latch-mux designs with stall gating are especially promising from a thermal perspective, because they exhibit lower power density than SRAM designs. Overall, when combined with implementation and verification challenges for SRAMs, latch-mux designs with stall gating appear especially promising for designs with thermal constraints. This paper also shows the importance of considering the interaction between architectural and circuit design choices when performing early-stage design exploration.

Published in:

Low Power Electronics and Design, 2005. ISLPED '05. Proceedings of the 2005 International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

8-10 Aug. 2005