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Dynamic gates have been excellent choice in the design of high-performance modules in modern microprocessors. The only limitation of dynamic gates is their relatively low noise margin compared to that of standard CMOS gates. Traditionally, this issue has been resolved by employing a pMOS keeper circuit that compensates for leakage current of the pull-down nMOS network. In the earlier technology nodes, the keeper circuit could improve reliability of the dynamic gates with minor performance penalty. However, aggressive scaling trends of CMOS technology along with increasing levels of process variations have reduced effectiveness of the traditional keeper approach. This is because to maintain an acceptable noise margin level in deep sub-100 nm technologies, large pMOS keepers must be employed, which generates substantial contention between the keeper and the pull-down network, and hence results in severe loss of performance and high power consumption. This problem is more severe in wide fan-in dynamic gates due to the large number of leaky nMOS devices connected to the dynamic node. In this paper, a novel variation-tolerant keeper architecture is proposed, which is capable of significantly reducing contention and improving performance and power consumption. Using circuit simulations, the overall improved characteristics of the proposed keeper are demonstrated in comparison to those of the traditional as well as several state-of-the-art keepers. The proposed keeper exhibits the lowest delay deviation under different levels of process variations. Also, it is shown that for an eight-input or gate, in presence of 15% Vth fluctuations, the proposed architecture can lead to 20%, 15%, and more than 40% reduction in power consumption, mean delay, and standard deviation of delay, respectively, when compared to the traditional keeper circuit.
Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:18 , Issue: 11 )
Date of Publication: Nov. 2010