Robust and Energy-Efficient Hardware: The Case for Asynchronous Design

Authors

  • Ney Laert Vilar Calazans Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil
  • Taciano Ares Rodolfo Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil
  • Marcos L. L. Sartori Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.29292/jics.v16i2.518

Keywords:

Asynchronous Circuits, Asynchronous Design, QDI, Delay Insensitive Design

Abstract

The current technologies behind the design of semiconductor integrated circuits allow embedding billions of components in a singe silicon die, enabling the construction of very complex circuits in a tiny space, dissipating little energy and producing huge amounts of useful computational work. However, the current levels of integration for electronic components in silicon and similar materials are not easily managed, as parameter variations grow steadily, making the design tasks increasingly challenging. Synchronous techniques have dominated the digital system design landscape for many decades, but their costs are increasingly hard to cope with. Asynchronous design and particularly quasi-delay insensitive design promises to deal with the same challenges more gracefully in current advanced nodes, and possibly irrevocably in future technology nodes. This article proposes a review of the state of the art in using asynchronous circuit design techniques to achieve energy-efficient and robust digital circuit and system design. In particular, the definition of a robust digital circuit comprises addressing several aspects to which a digital system design is expected to be robust to, including: (1) voltage variations; (2) process variations; (3) temperature variations; (4) circuit aging. Besides addressing energy-efficiency and all the mentioned robustness aspects, this work also approaches some of the state-of-the-art tools available to deal with asynchronous design, and points to desirable research development to be conducted in these subjects in the future.

Author Biographies

Ney Laert Vilar Calazans, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil

Holds a Ph.D. degree in Microelectronics from UCL-Belgium, obtained in 1993, and an M.Sc. in Computer Science and a BS in Electrical Engineering, both from UFRGS (Brazil), resp. obtained in 1985 and in 1988. He is
a Professor at the PUCRS (Brazil), where he works since 1986. Since 1994 he is a permanent member of the CS graduate program (PPGCC) at PUCRS, a program he helped founding. During the 2014-2015 period he followed a Post-Doctorate Senior stage at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA (USA). Prof. Calazans research interests include non-synchronous circuits, intrachip communication networks
and EDA techniques and tools. He has authored around 200 publications on his fields of interest. He is a CNPq Researcher (PQ-1C), a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Member of the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC) and of
the Brazilian Society of Microelectronics (SBMicro).

Taciano Ares Rodolfo, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil

Received his B.S. degree in Computer Engineering (2008) and his M.Sc. degree in Computer Science (2010) from PUCRS-Brazil. He is currently Ph.D. student in Computer Science at PUCRS-Brazil. His research interests include nonsynchronous circuits, computer architectures, EDA techniques and tools. Taciano has published articles
in conferences on reconfigurable computing and microelectronics. He is a Member of the IEEE and the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC).

Marcos L. L. Sartori, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) - Brazil

Received a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering (2017) and an M.Sc. degree in Computer Science (2019) from PUCRS-Brazil; he is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the same institution. His research interests include non-synchronous circuits, computer architectures, EDA techniques and tools. Marcos has published articles in conferences and journals on MPSoCs and microelectronics. He is a Member of the IEEE and the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC).

Additional Files

Published

2021-08-19

Issue

Section

Special Issue on Intelligent, Energy-Efficient and Robust Computing Systems