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Circuit-Level Timing Error Tolerance for Low-Power DSP Filters and Transforms

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4 Author(s)
Paul N. Whatmough ; Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department, University College London, London, U.K. ; Shidhartha Das ; David M. Bull ; Izzat Darwazeh

In this paper, we present a novel circuit-level timing error mitigation technique, which aims to increase energy-efficiency of digital signal processing datapaths without loss of robustness. Timing errors are detected using razor flip-flops on critical-paths, and the error-rate feedback is used to control a dynamic voltage scaling control loop. In place of conventional razor error correction by replay, we propose a new approach to bound the magnitude of intermittent timing errors at the circuit level. A timing guard-band is created by shaping the path delay distribution such that the critical paths correspond to a group of least-significant bit registers. These end-points are ensured to be critical by modifying the topology of the final stage carry-merge adder, and by using tool-based device sizing. Hence, timing violations lead to weakly correlated logical errors of small magnitude in a mean-squared-error sense. We examine this approach in an finite-impulse response (FIR) filter and a 2-D discrete cosine transform implementation, in 32-nm CMOS. Power saving compared to a conventional design at iso-frequency is 21%-23% at the typical corner, while retaining a voltage guard-band to protect against fast transient changes in switching activity and supply noise. The impact on minimum clock period is small (16%-20%), as it does not necessitate the use of ripple-carry adders and also requires only a bare minimum of additional design effort.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 6 )