On-chip PVT monitoring is now a
key consideration for 28-nanometer (nm) and FinFET technology based designs.
Higher accuracy monitors embedded within SoC designs enable a greater
opportunity for dynamic performance optimisation, either for lower power or higher
data throughput as well as offering greater device reliability. Sensing die
temperature, detecting logic speed and monitoring voltage supply levels can be
used intelligently to vary system clock frequencies and the voltage levels of
supply domains. A benefit of embedded thermal monitoring in particular is to
enhance device reliability and life-time by assessing the electromigration
effects of hot spots within the chip.
A key aspect is that PVT data
collection can be applied to each and every device, either during production or
‘in-the-field’. Moortec believe that strategies adopted by IC designers over
the coming years will be heavily influenced by the analysis of data harvested
from in-chip monitors.
“The greater process variability that is apparent at
these challenging small geometry CMOS technologies is forcing the IC design
community to look at conditions on-chip, not just generally but also per device
and within regions of a device,” said Stephen Crosher, Managing Director
of Moortec Semiconductor. “The industry faces the challenge posed by demand for
increasingly integrated, increasingly functional, giga-scale ICs for
applications such as personal mobile technology and multi-core server
configurations, whilst trying to improve battery life and maintaining optimal
performance. At low-geometry nodes, interconnect resistances are dramatically
increasing, core supply headroom is reducing and the power consumption per unit
area of silicon is increasing. Our flexible and easy-to-integrate PVT Controller
Sub-System is well placed to enable Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling
(DVFS) optimisation schemes to be used within the designs.”
By incorporating the PVT Controller, the design of the
customer’s host system is greatly simplified providing many features for the
access and control of on-chip PVT monitors. Moortec are currently developing
their roadmap of innovative next generation in-chip monitoring products.