Electronic Design

Technologies Keep Your Cycles On Time And Accurate

Imagine that the earth's rotation became unpredictable and varied between one and 100 hours. What effects would this have on life as we know it? Utter chaos would ensue, and many species would cease to exist.

With ICs, chaos leading to failure is guaranteed if you try to use a replacement IP block or core that isn't "cycle accurate" to improve speed, reduce power usage, and decrease area. In fact, if you try to use such a block or core, you probably will have to redesign and retest a large percentage of the design.

Intrinsity addresses this chaos with its cycle-accurate drop-in replacements for embedded processor IP cores. Known as FastCores, they offer significant performance boosts at roughly the same area and MIPS per milliwatt while preserving the same application software and test infrastructure (Table 1). The company's AMCC Titan core offers 4000 DMIPS at 2 GHz while consuming less than 2.5 W. The FastCores use Fast14 technology, which provides cell-based 1-of-N domino logic. In this circuit configuration, logic values are propagated from stage to stage with the aid of a clock to both preset all of the stages during one phase of the clock and change state during the other phase.

1-of-N encoding logic is similar to one-hot encoding, where only one wire in a given group of N may represent a logic high (1) value while the rest must remain logic low (0), except when all wires are logic low, indicating the pre-charge (preset) state. This encoding technique also can be compared to standard binary and dual-rail dynamic logic (Table 2).

This technology enables faster performance by a factor of three compared to standard static logic using the same process, lower area, and lower power implementations over conventional CMOS design approaches. Fast14's other benefits include reliable timing through the use of multiphased, overlapping clocks, noise mitigation by way of signal-aware routing, customizable transistor sizing to control power and source current, and scalability to at least 32 nm.

The FastCores and Fast14 may be licensed on a project, product family, or company-wide basis. RTL-based FastCores are available to existing core licensees. They don't require the licensing of new core architectures. Intrinsity charges a nominal nonrecurring-engineering fee and an incremental royalty on sales of FastCore-based processors.


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