Characterization of the Impact of Interconnect Design on the Capacitive Load Driven by a Global Clock Distribution

Power reduction techniques are a critical issue in the design of today’s ULSI chips. This paper is concerned with methods to characterize the capacitive load on the CHIP1 (Note to referees: the fake name CHIP1 is used in this paper to ensure blind review) on-chip global clock distribution [1], which is a large contributor to the overall chip power dissipation. A characterization of the capacitive load is needed because the contributions of the on-chip devices and interconnections are typically overestimated and are not well understood for high performance microprocessors. One problem that results from the lack of this information is excessively high power dissipation in the chip global clock distribution; the global clock distribution is over-designed and stronger than necessary to drive the actual (lower) chip load. Information about the capacitive load is difficult to obtain because the data volume is large, and extracting the interconnect data is a complex task. Sophisticated computer software is needed to extract the circuit and physical design data for hundreds of devices and wire segments within the chip design schedule.

This paper presents the first comprehensive characterization of the clock load for ASIC-like control logic designs in the 1.3GHz CHIP1 microprocessor core [1], [2]. This characterization was achieved with the use of sophisticated software written for this study to accomplish the task of extracting the data from these designs. Analysis of the data shows that the wire contribution to the chip capacitive load is significant and can increase the capacitive load of a design by 30% on average and by as much as 130% for some designs. The results also suggest that the wire load contribution on each metal layer can be reduced if an alternate interconnect design style is selected. Two alternate design styles are presented and show that a capacitive load reduction of 8.4% to 20% is expected for each design. Extended to the entire chip, the results show that the load reduction for the core is expected to be as high as 10%. These values are large enough that one alternate design style has been implemented in the design methodology of future chips.

By: G. G. Lopez; Giovanni Fiorenza; Thomas J. Bucelot; Phillip J. Restle; Mary Yvonne Wisniewski

Published in: RC23501 in 2005


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