Power conscious CAD tools and methodologies: a perspective
Proceedings of the IEEE
Power consumption is rapidly becoming an area of growing concern in IC and system design houses. Issues such as battery life, thermal limits, packaging constraints and cooling options are becoming key factors in the success of a product. As a consequence, IC and system designers are beginning to see the impact of power on design area, design speed, design complexity and manufacturing cost. While process and voltage scaling can achieve significant power reductions, these are expensive strategies
... that require industry momentum, that only pay off in the long run. Technology independent gains for power come from the area of design for low power which has a much higher return on investment (ROI). But low power design is not only a new area but is also a complex endeavor requiring a broad range of synergistic capabilities from architecture/microarchitecture design to package design. It changes traditional IC design from a twodimensional problem (AredPerformance) to a three-dimensional one (AredPerformance/Power). This paper describes the CAD tools and methodologies required to effect eficient design for low power. It is targeted to a wide audience and tries to convey an understanding of the breadth of the problem. It explains the state of the art in CAD tools and methodologies. The paper is written in the form of a tutorial, making it easy to read by keeping the technical depth to a minimum while supplying a wealth of technical references. Simultaneously the paper identifies unresolved problems in an attempt to incite research in these areas. Finally an attempt is made to provide commercial CAD tool vendors with an understanding of the needs and time frames for new CAD tools supporting low power design.