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To solve the problem of fluctuations in clock timing (also known as "clock skew" problems), we propose an approach for the implementation of post-fabrication clock-timing adjustment utilizing genetic algorithms (GAs). This approach is realized by the combination of dedicated adjustable circuitry and adjustment software, with the values for multiple programmable delay circuits inserted into the clock lines being determined by the adjustment software after fabrication. The proposed approach has three advantages: 1) enhancement in clock frequencies leading to improved operational yields; 2) lower power supply voltages, while maintaining operational yield; and 3) reductions in design times. Two different LSIs have been developed: the first is a programmable delay circuit, developed as an element of the clock-timing adjustment, while the second is a medium-scale circuit, developed to evaluate these advantages in a real chip. Experiments with these two LSIs, as well as a design experiment, have demonstrated these advantages with an enhancement in clock frequency of 25% (max), a reduction in the power-supply voltage of 33%, and a 21% shorter design time.
Date of Publication: April 2004