Conference paper

Asymptotic Zero-Transition Activity Encoding for Address Busses in Low-Power Microprocessor-Based Systems

In microprocessor-based systems, large power savings can be achieved through reduction of the transition activity of the on- and off-chip busses. This is because the total capacitance being switched when a voltage change occurs on a bus line is usually sensibly larger than the capacitive load that must be charged/discharged when internal nodes toggle. In this paper, we propose an encoding scheme which is suitable for reducing the switching activity on the lines of an address bus. The technique relies on the observation that, in a remarkable number of cases, patterns traveling onto address busses are consecutive. Under this condition it may therefore be possible, for the devices located at the receiving end of the bus, to automatically calculate the address to be received at the next clock cycle; consequently, the transmission of the new pattern can be avoided, resulting in an overall switching activity decrease. We present analytical and experimental analyses showing the improved performance of our encoding scheme when compared to both binary and Gray addressing schemes, the latter being widely accepted as the most efficient method for address bus encoding. We also propose power and timing efficient implementations of the encoding and the decoding logic, and we discuss the applicability of the technique to real microprocessor-based designs.

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