Relativistic causality and clockless circuits

Philippe Matherat, Marc-Thierry Jaekel

Time plays a crucial role in the performance of computing systems. The accurate modelling of logical devices, and of their physical implementations, requires an appropriate representation of time and of all properties that depend on this notion. The need for a proper model, particularly acute in the design of clockless delay-insensitive (DI) circuits, leads one to reconsider the classical descriptions of time and of the resulting order and causal relations satisfied by logical operations. This questioning meets the criticisms of classical spacetime formulated by Einstein when founding relativity theory and is answered by relativistic conceptions of time and causality. Applying this approach to clockless circuits and considering the trace formalism, we rewrite Udding's rules which characterize communications between DI components. We exhibit their intrinsic relation with relativistic causality. For that purpose, we introduce relativistic generalizations of traces, called R-traces, which provide a pertinent description of communications and compositions of DI components.

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