Sonics Plans Extension of EPU Product Line to Support Control of 22FDX Body-biasing in Combination with DVFS
San Jose, Calif. – January 25, 2017 – Sonics, Inc., the world’s foremost supplier of on-chip network (NoC) and power management technologies and services, today announced it will collaborate with GLOBALFOUNDRIES on energy processing unit (EPU) product development that leverages the power and performance optimization capabilities of the 22FDX® process technologies for the system-on-chip (SoC) design community. The collaboration seeks to raise the level of abstraction for SoC power control through the integration of 22FDX body-biasing techniques into Sonics’ comprehensive EPU products. Sonics will develop an extension of its EPU product line, based on the ICE-Grain™ Power Architecture, which supports GLOBALFOUNDRIES body-biasing library components to increase SoC performance, reduce SoC power consumption, and enable SoC designers to tightly tune margins for higher manufacturing yields. As part of the collaboration with GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Sonics has also joined the FDXcelerator™ Partner Program.
“Sonics is on a mission to bring power management to every SoC design team and our collaboration with GLOBALFOUNDRIES is an important element in that strategy,” said Grant Pierce, CEO of Sonics. “We want to make SoC designers more comfortable adopting aggressive power management techniques to control energy consumption. FDX™ technologies offer amazing abilities to trade off transistor speed versus leakage power to optimize power grains to varying workloads. Our EPU will provide a safe and automated solution that removes the perceived risk of using these sophisticated power management techniques while enabling different regions of the chip design to dynamically operate at different biases.”
“GLOBALFOUNDRIES is building a world-class ecosystem to enable customers to leverage 22FDX and collaborating with Sonics is key to simplifying customer adoption of body-biasing in their designs,” said Alain Mutricy, senior vice president of Product Management at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “Our customers need a scalable method for controlling the unique body-biasing capabilities offered in the 22FDX process, and applying FDX to Sonics’ pioneering work in EPU will bring power saving results to designers with power sensitive SoCs.”
22FDX: Architected for Effective Body-biasing
One of the most differentiated features of the 22FDX platform is that it is architected for effective body-biasing. Body-biasing applies a positive or a negative voltage to the back gate of the transistor. This allows the transistor threshold voltage (Vt) to be tuned, either higher or lower, and can be done statically or dynamically under software or hardware EPU control. In the case of reverse body-bias, the Vt is increased to reduce the leakage in standby mode operation. For appropriately optimized device architectures, leakages down to 1pA/micron are achievable.
In the case of forward body-bias, the switching frequency can be increased and used for a selectable boost or turbo mode to increase performance. Forward body-biasing can also be used to enable ultra-low power or low voltage operation, even down to 0.4 volts, by lowering the Vt to retain voltage headroom and performance while operating at low Vdd. There are many other novel ways to use body-biasing, such as process compensation to minimize variability or as a method to mitigate the reliability penalties associated with voltage overdrive conditions.
Dynamic Body-bias Provides Best Performance – Power Tradeoffs
When body-biasing corners are combined with traditional PVT corners, designers have access to an entirely new dimension to optimize for power and performance. With the body-bias capability of 22FDX, they can optimize circuit blocks to maximize battery life with the ideal combination of active or leakage power based on the desired use condition. The figure below shows the optimal operating points for relative active and leakage power to obtain best performance, lowest total power or best performance per watt. This flexibility enables innovative solutions to the difficult trade-offs designers face when using other process technologies.
Source: GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX whitepaper March 2016
GLOBALFOUNDRIES is a leading full-service semiconductor foundry providing a unique combination of design, development, and fabrication services to some of the world’s most inspired technology companies. With a global manufacturing footprint spanning three continents, GLOBALFOUNDRIES makes possible the technologies and systems that transform industries and give customers the power to shape their markets. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is owned by Mubadala Development Company. For more information, visit http://www.globalfoundries.com.
About Sonics, Inc.
Sonics, Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) is the trusted leader in on-chip network (NoC) and power-management technologies used by the world’s top semiconductor and electronics product companies, including Broadcom®, Intel®, Marvell®, MediaTek, and Microchip®. Sonics was the first company to develop and commercialize NoCs, accelerating volume production of complex systems-on-chip (SoC) that contain multiple processor cores. Based on the ICE-Grain™ Power Architecture, Sonics’ ICE-G1™ is the industry’s first complete Energy Processing Unit (EPU), which enables rapid development of SoC power management subsystems. Sonics is also a catalyst for ongoing discussions about design methodology change via the Agile IC Methodology LinkedIn group. Sonics holds approximately 150 patent properties supporting customer products that have shipped more than four billion SoCs. For more information, visit sonicsinc.com.