My favorite paper from the ISSCC processor session describes an adaptive clocking technique implemented in AMD’s 28nm Steamroller core that compensates for power supply noise. Initial results show a 10-20% decrease in power consumption from reducing the voltage, with no loss in performance. This elegant technique is likely to be adopted across AMD’s entire product line including GPUs, x86 CPUs, ARM-based CPUs, and other critical blocks in highly integrated SoCs.
Highlights of the upcoming 2012 ISSCC include the first 22nm disclosures from Intel and several SoC papers from AMD, Cavium Networks and Oracle. Looking out further to the future, the clear focus is power consumption. There are several papers from Intel on low-power logic, one from IBM discussing 3D integration of embedded DRAM and a third from Fujitsu on system level power for the K supercomputer.
Intel’s Sandy Bridge ISSCC paper discusses a number of challenges they will eventually impact most vendors. The novel architectural choices and circuit design solutions that they describe give insight into current and future products from Intel, but also the general direction of the industry. The overarching theme is taking advantage of Moore’s Law at 32nm and beyond, which entails considerable attention to design complexity, process variation, power efficiency and validation.
As Moore’s Law continues, each new generation of semiconductor manufacturing is ushered in by new challenges, hurdles and solutions. At ISSCC 2011, a panel with speakers from Global Foundries, IBM, Intel, Renesas and TSMC discussed manufacturing and circuit design interactions at the upcoming 22nm node. Industry leaders have reached a broad technical consensus, although with several subtle differences. This report explores the key challenges and solutions at 22nm; focusing on variation and co-optimization between design and manufacturing. As a result of the needed collaboration, understanding of physical design and manufacturing is even more critical to cutting edge chip development and achieving good performance, power and yields.
The integration predicted by Moore’s Law is fundamentally driven by advances in semiconductor manufacturing. One of the key challenges is scaling to ever finer and denser geometries, while improving the performance of transistors. IEDM and the VLSI Symposium are the premier venues to discuss the challenges and opportunities for future process technologies. No commercial 22nm process technologies were presented at IEDM 2010, but in the last two years a number of advances have been disclosed, both for high performance and low power applications. This article describes several 32nm and 28nm nodes from Intel, IBM’s Common Platform and TSMC, plus novel applications such as IBM’s 32nm eDRAM that have been disclosed at IEDM and VLSI.
In the last decade, the Itanium architecture has quietly progressed and achieved a measure of success in the high-end server market. Yet it has never lived up to the initial expectations and supplanted x86, leading many to wonder whether Intel would eventually abandon the architecture. The recently released ISSCC 2011 advanced program contains a paper describing Poulson, the next generation Itanium microarchitecture on Intel’s 32nm process. The title of the paper suggests that Poulson is a substantially enhanced design and that Itanium still has many years of life ahead. This article explores two microarchitectural possibilities for the new Poulson core.
This article presents a preview of ISSCC 2008, including discussion of Intel’s Itanium processor, codenamed Tukwila and an ultra-low power x86 MPU codenamed Silverthorne. Other presentations include Sun’s Rock and Niagara 3 processors, the 45nm CELL processor and assorted DRAM and SRAM prsentations.
One of Intel’s research areas is what they call “Terascale Computing”. This research is really about discovering how to deal with computer architecture in the next decade or so. One element of this research, a project code-named Polaris, is a chip that delivers over a teraflop of performance. The first silicon prototype of this Teraflops chip was presented at ISSCC 2007 by members of the design team.
David Kanter reports on several presentations from ISSCC 2007, including ones covering PA Semi, Intel’s Merom/Core 2 Duo, Niagara II and NEC.