The University of Southampton

Ultra-Low Power Design Based on Near Threshold Voltage

Simulation, Modelling and Evalution

Unlike the established Sub-Threshold Voltage (STV) techniques, the recently introduced Near-Threshold Voltage (NTV) approach promises to scale well with the decreasing supply voltage while maintaining robustness and reliability. This research proposes to integrate the NTV approach, as a method of enabling significant reductions in the energy consumption, with many-core processor architectures. One of the main goals of the proposed research is to investigate to what extent extremely low supply voltages can maintain the robustness of logic circuits, tolerate process variability and be resilient against errors. Since NTV circuits at low voltage must run at lower frequencies, CPU intensive tasks, that are typically performed in battery powered mobile devices, will be executed in a many-core environment to maintain performance while the overall energy is reduced. As natural variations in manufacturing processes can lead to voltage fluctuations and logic circuit failures, techniques will be investigated to monitor the errors and adjust the supply voltage dynamically to maintain reliable operation. Control circuitry will need to be developed to reduce energy consumption even further, through adjusting the required supply voltage of individual components of the chip and powering them down when they are not being used. It is envisaged that processors developed in the course of this research may also be suitable for other applications, for example, energy-harvester powered sensor nodes where the development of specialised ultra-low energy processor technologies is currently lagging.

Associated research group

  • Electronic and Software Systems
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