Containing the Nanometer “Pandora-Box”: Cross-Layer Design Techniques for Variation Aware Low Power Systems
The demand for richer multimedia services, multifunctional portable devices and high data rates can only been visioned due to the improvement in semiconductor technology. Unfortunately, sub-90 nm process nodes uncover the nanometer Pandora-box exposing the barriers of technology scaling—parameter variations, that threaten the correct operation of circuits, and increased energy consumption, that limits the operational lifetime of today’s systems. The contradictory design requirements for low-power and system robustness, is one of the most challenging design problems of today. The design efforts are further complicated due to the heterogeneous types of designs (logic, memory, mixed-signal) that are included in today’s complex systems and are characterized by different design requirements. This paper presents an overview of techniques at various levels of design abstraction that lead to low power and variation aware logic, memory and mixed-signal circuits and can potentially assist in meeting the strict power budgets and yield/quality requirements of future systems.