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Minimum energy operation for digital circuits typically requires scaling the power supply below the device threshold voltage. Advanced technologies offer improved integration, performance, and active-energy efficiency for minimum energy sub-Vt circuits, but are plagued by increased variation and reduced ION/IOFF ratios, which degrade the fundamental device characteristics critical to circuit operation by several orders of magnitude. This paper investigates those characteristics and presents design methodologies and circuit topologies to manage their severe degradation. The issues specific to both general logic and dense static random access memories are analyzed, and solutions that address their distinct design metrics are presented.