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Coarse-grained Bubble Razor to Exploit the Potential of Two-Phase Transparent Latch Design

Coarse-grained Bubble Razor to Exploit the Potential of Two-Phase Transparent Latch Design
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Timing margin to cover process variation is one of the most critical factors that limit the amount of supply voltage reduction thereby power consumption. To remove too conservative timing margin, Bubble Razor was introduced to dynamically detect and correct errors in two-phase transparent latch designs [13]. However, it does not fully exploit the potential of two-phase transparent latch design, e.g. time borrowing. Thus, especially at low supply voltage where the effect of process variation becomes significant, the existing Bubble Razor can suffer from significant overhead in performance and power consumption due to too frequent occurrence of bubble generations. We present a coarse-grained Bubble Razor which exploits the time-borrowing characteristic of two-phase transparent latch design. By selectively inserting error checkpoints, i.e., shadow latches and error management logic, in the circuit, time borrowing can be applied between error checkpoints thereby avoiding bubbles which could occur in the existing Bubble Razor design with a checkpoint at every latch on the critical path. We present a methodology to choose the grain size (the number of stages between error checkpoints) based on 3-sigma delay distribution. We also verify the benefits of coarse-grained Bubble Razor with a real microprocessor, Core-A design [15] using 20nm Predictive Technology Model (PTM) [16]. The proposed methodology offers 62% improvement in performance (MIPS) and 49% less energy consumption (per instruction) at 0.6V operation (zero frequency margin) over the original Bubble Razor scheme. In addition, it gives 25% area reduction in core design.
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