Skip to Main Content
The exponential increase in leakage power due to technology scaling has made power gating an attractive design choice for low-power applications. In this paper, we explore this design style in large combinational circuit blocks and latch-to-latch datapaths and introduce a novel power gating approach to yield an improved power-performance tradeoff. We first present a multiple sleep mode power gating technique where each mode represents a different point in the wake-up overhead versus leakage savings design space. We show that the high wake-up latency and wake-up power penalty of traditional power gating limits its application to large stretches of inactivity. The multiple-mode feature allows a processor to enter power saving modes more frequently, hence, resulting in enhanced leakage savings. We apply the multimode power gating technique to datapaths where the degree of applied power gating becomes progressively stronger (harder) along the datapath. This configuration allows us to further balance wake-up overhead with leakage savings by exploiting the fact that logic circuits deep in the datapath have higher wakeup margin and hence can be strongly gated. Simulations show that multiple sleep mode capability provides an extra 17% reduction in overall leakage compared to traditional single mode gating. The multiple modes can be designed to allow state-retentive modes. The results on benchmarks show that a single state-retentive mode can reduce leakage by 19% while preserving state of the circuit.