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In this paper, the impact of the wire grid size on the power-delay-area tradeoff of VLSI digital circuits with differential routing is analyzed. To this aim, the differential MOS current-mode logic (MCML) is adopted as reference logic style, and a complete differential design flow is used. Analysis shows that the choice of the grid size in differential routing has a much stronger impact on the power-delay-area tradeoff, compared to the usual single-ended case, hence the grid size must be carefully selected. The dependence of power, delay and area on the grid size is discussed in detail through simple models and metrics. To validate the approach and show basic dependencies in practical circuits, 30 benchmark circuits with an in-house designed MCML cell library were synthesized and routed in a 0.18-mum CMOS technology. Results show that non-optimal choice of the grid size can determine a dramatic increase in power (1.7X) and area (1.3X). Interestingly, the grid size that optimizes the power-delay-area tradeoff depends very weakly on the specific circuit under design, hence a generally optimum grid size exists that optimizes a very wide range of different circuits.
Date of Conference: 24-27 May 2009