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Do You Think Low Power???

May 20, 2007

There is almost no design today, where low power is not a concern. Reducing power is an issue which can be tackled on many levels, from the system design to the most fundamental implementation techniques.

In digital design, clock gating is the back bone of low power design. It is true that there are many other ways the designer can influence the power consumption, but IMHO clock gating is the easiest and simplest to introduce without a huge overhead or compromise.

Here is a simple example on how to easily implement low power features.

sync_fifo.png The picture on the right shows a very simple synchronous FIFO. That FIFO is a very common design structure which is easily implementable using a shift register. The data is being pushed to the right with each clock and the tap select decides which register to pick. The problem with this construction is that with each clock all the flip-flops potentially toggle, and a clock is driven to all. This hurts especially in data or packet processing applications where the size of this FIFO can be in the range of thousands of flip-flops!!

sync_fifo_low_power.png The correct approach is instead of moving the entire data around with each clock, to “move” the clock itself. Well not really move, but to keep only one specific cell (or row in the case of vectors) active while all the other flip-flops are gated. This is done by using a simple counter (or a state machine for specific applications) that rotates a “one hot” signal – thus enabling only one cell at a time. Notice that the data_in signal is connected to all the cells in parallel,. When new data arrives only the cell which receives a clock edge in that moment will have a new value stored.

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One comment

  1. i don’t think power reduction here is that significant relative to area.
    You are introducing addition flops for counter, and also a additional CG logic. What about no of togglig required in this additional logics?



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