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For many years, CMOS process scaling has allowed a steady increase in the operating frequency and integration density of integrated circuits. Only recently, however, have we reached a point where it takes several clock cycles for global signals to traverse a complex digital system such as a modern microprocessor. Thus, interconnect latency must be taken into account in current and future design tools at the architectural as well as synthesis level. For this purpose, the author proposes a new latency-aware technique for the performance-driven concurrent insertion of flip-flops and repeaters in VLSI circuits. Overwhelming evidence showing an exponential increase in the number of pipelined interconnects with process scaling, for high-performance microprocessors as well as high-end ASICs, is also presented. This increase indicates a radical change in current design methodologies to cope with this new emerging problem.
Date of Conference: 10-14 Nov. 2002