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SACTA: A Self-Adjusting Clock Tree Architecture for Adapting to Thermal-Induced Delay Variation

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4 Author(s)
Jieyi Long ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL, USA ; Ja Chun Ku ; Seda Ogrenci Memik ; Yehea Ismail

Aggressive technology scaling down and low-power design techniques lead to uneven distributed power density, which translates into heat flow in the chips, causing significant temperature variations in both spatial and temporal terms. In order to mitigate the negative impacts of temperature variations on circuit timing, we propose SACTA, a self-adjusting clock tree architecture, which performs temperature-dependent dynamic clock skew scheduling to prevent timing violations in a pipelined circuit. The dynamic and adaptive features of SACTA are enabled by our proposed automatic temperature-adjustable skew buffers and temperature-insensitive skew buffers. These special delay elements are carefully tuned to ensure resilience of the entire circuit against temperature variation. To determine their configurations, we proposed an efficient and general clock tree design and optimization framework. Furthermore, we show that SACTA is applicable across a wide spectrum of circuits, including multi-Vdd/Vth designs. Experimental results show that a pipeline supported by SACTA is able to prevent thermal-induced timing violations within a significantly larger range of operating temperatures (on average, the violation-free range can be enhanced by over 15°C).

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 9 )