Data Conversion in Area-Constrained Applications: the Wireless Network-on-Chip Case

Sergi Abadal, Eduard Alarcón

Network-on-Chip (NoC) is currently the paradigm of choice to interconnect the different components of System-on-Chips (SoCs) or Chip Multiprocessors (CMPs). As the levels of integration continue to grow, however, current NoCs face significant scalability limitations and have prompted research in novel interconnect technologies. Among these, wireless intra-chip communications have been under intense scrutiny due to their low latency broadcast and architectural flexibility. Thus far, the practicality of the idea has been studied from the RF front-end and the network interface perspectives, whereas little to no attention has been placed on another essential component: the data converters. This article aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive analysis of the requirements of the scenario, as well as of the current performance and cost trends of Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs). Based on Murmann's data, we demonstrate that ADCs will not be a roadblock for the realization of wireless intra-chip communications although current designs do not meet their demands fully.

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