Sleepy Stack: a New Approach to Low Power VLSI and Memory

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Park, Jun Cheol
Mooney, Vincent John, III
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New low power solutions for Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) are proposed. Especially, we focus on leakage power reduction. Although neglected at 0.18u technology and above, leakage power is nearly equal to dynamic power consumption in nanoscale technology, e.g., 0.07u. We present a novel circuit structure, we call it sleepy stack, which is a combination of two well-known low-leakage techniques: the forced stack and sleep transistor techniques. Unlike the forced stack technique, the sleepy stack technique can utilize high-Vth transistors without incurring a large delay increase. Also, unlike the sleep transistor technique, the sleepy stack technique can retain exact logic state while achieving similar leakage power savings. In short, our sleepy stack structure achieves ultra-low leakage power consumption while retaining logic state. We apply the sleepy stack technique to both generic logic circuits as well as SRAM. At 0.07u technology, the sleepy stack logic circuits achieves up to 200X leakage reduction compared the forced stack technique with small (under 7%) delay variations and 51~118% area overheads. The sleepy stack SRAM cell with 1.5xVth achieves 5X leakage reduction with 32% delay increase or 2.49X leakage reduction without delay increase compared to the high-Vth SRAM cell. As such, the sleepy stack technique can be applicable to a design that requires ultra-low leakage power with quick response time while paying area and delay cost. We also propose a new low power architectural technique named Low-Power Pipelined Cache (LPPC). Although a conventional pipelined cache is mainly used to reduce cache access time, we lower supply voltage of cache using LPPC to save dynamic power. We achieve 20.43% processor dynamic energy savings with 4.14% execution cycle increase using 2-stage low-Vdd LPPC. Furthermore, we apply LPPC to the sleepy stack SRAM. The sleepy stack pipelined SRAM achieves 17X leakage power reduction while increasing execution time by 4% on average. Although this combined technique increases active power consumption by 33%, this technique is well suited for the system that spends most of its time in sleep mode.
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