Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Intel's Ultra Low-Power Process

There was a story a couple of days ago about Intel announcing an ultra-low power 65nm process. I've been looking around and couldn't find much technical detail, but New Intel 65 nm lithography promises reduced leakage for small devices at Tom's Hardware Guide has the most detail.

The power reduction is through a three-pronged attack:

  1. Increasing treshold voltage. This is familiar to all nanometer-scale digital IC designers today.
  2. Low Damage Junction Engineering. Uh, that's some real process engineering, and I don't have much insight.
  3. Increased Gate Oxide Thickness. This is very interesting and counter to scaling and performance trends. But, when the gate oxide is only 3-5 atoms thick, you have to question "how thin is too thin?". The article just mentions making the oxide thicker. Presumably this is less risky than utilizing often-mentioned but not-in-production High-K Dielectrics.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Startup claims FPGA lead with asynchronous logic - Startup claims FPGA lead with asynchronous logic one of a handful of claims for products based upon asynchronous logic design.

I'm very intrigued by this idea. It has the promise of removing lots of overhead in chips for clock distribution and balancing. Not only does all the synchronous clock overhead use a significant amity of chip area, but it uses up a large amount of the standard cell power consumption! Every one of those clock buffers toggles twice per period, giving it a "toggle factor" of 2X.

I don't recall asynchronous logic design being taught in any of my engineering classes. There need to be more resources to learn about it.

Another big roadblock is that there is not the EDA infrastructure for asynchronous design. All the commercial synthesis, timing, and test tools assume synchronous design.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Designing ICs with the 'X' Architecture - Designing ICs with the 'X' Architecture is a great exposition of the emerging design style of using diagonal interconnect in addition to the traditional Manhattan (horizontal and vertical only) routing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The good news about EDA

It is good to recognize the exciting things that our industry is accomplishing, as described in - The good news about EDA by Richard Goering.

I agree that SystemVerilog looks to be a better way to design and verify. It's more productive, removes some Verilog ambiguity, and has better support for formal verification.

I don't know the prospects for OpenAccess (hope it's not another CAD Framework Initiative or CHDSTD), but hope it succeeds. As Richard says, why should every startup (and every corporate CAD department) have to redevelop the infrastructure for EDA tools?

Don't know much about SystemC. Let's start using SystemVerilog first.