Course grained low power design flow using UPF

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Title: Course grained low power design flow using UPF
Author: Varanasi, Archana
Abstract: Increased system complexity has led to the substitution of the traditional bottom-up design flow by systematic hierarchical design flow. The main motivation behind the evolution of such an approach is the increasing difficulty in hardware realization of complex systems. With decreasing channel lengths, few key problems such as timing closure, design sign-off, routing complexity, signal integrity, and power dissipation arise in the design flows. Specifically, minimizing power dissipation is critical in several high-end processors. In high-end processors, the design complexity contributes to the overall dynamic power while the decreasing transistor size results in static power dissipation. This research aims at optimizing the design flow for power and timing using the unified power format (UPF). UPF provides a strategic format to specify power-aware design information at every stage in the flow. The low power reduction techniques enforced in this research are multi-voltage, multi-threshold voltage (Vth), and power gating with state retention. An inherent design challenge addressed in this research is the choice of power optimization techniques as the flow advances from synthesis to physical design. A top-down digital design flow for a 32 bit MIPS RISC processor has been implemented with and without UPF synthesis flow for 65nm technology. The UPF synthesis is implemented with two voltages, 1.08V and 0.864V (Multi-VDD). Area, power and timing metrics are analyzed for the flows developed. Power savings of about 20 % are achieved in the design flow with 'multi-threshold' power technique compared to that of the design flow with no low power techniques employed. Similarly, 30 % power savings are achieved in the design flow with the UPF implemented when compared to that of the design flow with 'multi-threshold' power technique employed. Thus, a cumulative power savings of 42% has been achieved in a complete power efficient design flow (UPF) compared to that of the generic top-down standard flow with no power saving techniques employed. This is substantiated by the low voltage operation of modules in the design, reduction in clock switching power by gating clocks in the design and extensive use of HVT and LVT standard cells for implementation. The UPF synthesis flow saw the worst timing slack and more area when compared to those of the `multi-threshold' or the generic flow. Percentage increase in the area with UPF is approximately 15%; a significant source for this increase being the additional power controlling logic added.
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Date: 2009-08

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