May 13, 2016

Methodology to lower supply voltage of standard cell libraries
B. Arricca

Standard cells libraries are usually designed to operate at a specific value of supply voltage referred to as “nominal voltage”.

This article details the performance trade-offs in terms of power consumption and speed when decreasing power supply voltage, as well as a methodology to determine the lowest value to use. Decreasing the supply voltage will reduce both the power consumption to some extent and the speed significantly. As the design of the cells is left unchanged, the density will remain unchanged.

In the first section, we will focus on the benefits of lowering the supply voltage on the power consumption, and then we will observe the impact of low supply voltage on the speed of the cells. After noting the importance of OCV margins, we will finally describe a methodology to obtain the best trade-off for supply voltage in terms of speed and power.

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