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Near-Threshold Computing: Reclaiming Moore's Law Through Energy Efficient Integrated Circuits

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5 Author(s)
Dreslinski, R.G. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA ; Wieckowski, M. ; Blaauw, D. ; Sylvester, D.
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Power has become the primary design constraint for chip designers today. While Moore's law continues to provide additional transistors, power budgets have begun to prohibit those devices from actually being used. To reduce energy consumption, voltage scaling techniques have proved a popular technique with subthreshold design representing the endpoint of voltage scaling. Although it is extremely energy efficient, subthreshold design has been relegated to niche markets due to its major performance penalties. This paper defines and explores near-threshold computing (NTC), a design space where the supply voltage is approximately equal to the threshold voltage of the transistors. This region retains much of the energy savings of subthreshold operation with more favorable performance and variability characteristics. This makes it applicable to a broad range of power-constrained computing segments from sensors to high performance servers. This paper explores the barriers to the widespread adoption of NTC and describes current work aimed at overcoming these obstacles.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:98 ,  Issue: 2 )