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A 45 nm Resilient Microprocessor Core for Dynamic Variation Tolerance

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11 Author(s)

A 45 nm microprocessor core integrates resilient error-detection and recovery circuits to mitigate the clock frequency (FCLK) guardbands for dynamic parameter variations to improve throughput and energy efficiency. The core supports two distinct error-detection designs, allowing a direct comparison of the relative trade-offs. The first design embeds error-detection sequential (EDS) circuits in critical paths to detect late timing transitions. In addition to reducing the Fclk guardbands for dynamic variations, the embedded EDS design can exploit path-activation rates to operate the microprocessor faster than infrequently-activated critical paths. The second error-detection design offers a less-intrusive approach for dynamic timing-error detection by placing a tunable replica circuit (TRC) per pipeline stage to monitor worst-case delays. Although the TRCs require a delay guardband to ensure the TRC delay is always slower than critical-path delays, the TRC design captures most of the benefits from the embedded EDS design with less implementation overhead. Furthermore, while core min-delay constraints limit the potential benefits of the embedded EDS design, a salient advantage of the TRC design is the ability to detect a wider range of dynamic delay variation, as demonstrated through low supply voltage (VCC) measurements. Both error-detection designs interface with error-recovery techniques, enabling the detection and correction of timing errors from fast-changing variations such as high-frequency VCC droops. The microprocessor core also supports two separate error-recovery techniques to guarantee correct execution even if dynamic variations persist. The first technique requires clock control to replay errant instructions at 1/2FCLK. In comparison, the second technique is a new multiple-issue instruction replay design that corrects errant instructions with a lower performance penalty and without requiring clock control. Silic- n measurements demonstrate that resilient circuits enable a 41% throughput gain at equal energy or a 22% energy reduction at equal throughput, as compared to a conventional design when executing a benchmark program with a 10% VCC droop. In addition, the microprocessor includes a new adaptive clock control circuit that interfaces with the resilient circuits and a phase-locked loop (PLL) to track recovery cycles and adapt to persistent errors by dynamically changing Fclk f°Γ maximum efficiency.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 1 )