Title: Ultra-Low-Voltage Design of Energy-Efficient Digital Circuits
Other Titles: Ontwerp van energie-efficiënte digitale schakelingen bij extreem lage voedingsspanningen
Authors: Reynders, Nele
Issue Date: 1-Dec-2014
Abstract: Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming more and more a decisive parameter for digital systems, driven by the ever increasing number of portable applications. Mobile phones are an obvious example, but many other portable electronic devices are emerging which have less stringent speed requirements but even more critical energy requirements. Since their stand-alone time is dependent on the fixed available energy budget, research toward significant improvements in energy consumption per operation is paramount. Especially medical applications such as biomedical sensor nodes can benefit greatly from a drastically increased energy-efficiency. By extremely reducing the supply voltage of digital CMOS circuits, their dynamic energy consumption decreases quadratically. Therefore, operating digital systems at ultra-low supply voltages can result in significant energy savings. However, ultra-low-voltage circuits pose many challenges as well. The current decreases exponentially, causing the delay to increase considerably. Hence, inherently, it is only possible to achieve low to moderate circuit performance. Circuits operating at such low supply voltages are much more sensitive to variations, which can severely compromise the yield. Moreover, the decreased current ratios pose a threat to reliable functionality of the circuits. This thesis aims to design ultra-low-voltage digital circuits which are not only energy-efficient, but also provide answers to these various challenges. A focus is given toward designing variation-resilient circuits, as this is key to guarantee high yield. Additionally, operating frequencies of nx10MHz are targeted to establish ultra-low-voltage systems as an attractive option for industrial applications. To accomplish these various research aims, careful attention must be paid to all abstraction levels of digital design. Therefore, a complete design methodology is presented, which follows a bottom-up approach from transistor-level circuit design up to architecture-level recommendations. This ultra-low-voltage design strategy is generally applicable for all types of signal processing applications. This is demonstrated by four implemented prototypes: three datapath elements, i.e. a logarithmic adder and two multiply-accumulate units, and a full JPEG encoder in 90nm and 40nm CMOS technologies. These prototypes have successfully obtained the predefined research goals and have thereby succeeded to effectively validate the proposed design methodology.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:ESAT - MICAS, Microelectronics and Sensors

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