Electromigration-Aware Architecture for Modern Microprocessors

Freddy Gabbay, Avi Mendelson, Yinnon Stav

Reliability is a fundamental requirement in any microprocessor to guarantee correct execution over its lifetime. The design rules related to reliability depend on the process technology being used and the expected operating conditions of the device. To meet reliability requirements, advanced process technologies (28 nm and below) impose highly challenging design rules. Such design-for-reliability rules have become a major burden on the flow of VLSI implementation because of the severe physical constraints they impose. This paper focuses on electromigration (EM), which is one of the major critical factors affecting semiconductor reliability. EM is the aging process of on-die wires and vias and is induced by excessive current flow that can damage wires and may also significantly impact the integrated-circuit clock frequency. EM exerts a comprehensive global effect on devices because it impacts wires that may reside inside the standard or custom logical cells, between logical cells, inside memory elements, and within wires that interconnect functional blocks. The design-implementation flow (synthesis and place-and-route) currently detects violations of EM-reliability rules and attempts to solve them. In contrast, this paper proposes a new approach to enhance these flows by using EM-aware architecture. Our results show that the proposed solution can relax EM design efforts in microprocessors and more than double microprocessor lifetime. This work demonstrates this proposed approach for modern microprocessors, although the principals and ideas can be adapted to other cases as well.

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