Towards Designing Asynchronous Microprocessors: From Specification to Tape-out

Zaheer Tabassam, Syed Rameez Naqvi, Tallha Akram, Musaed Alhussein, Khursheed Aurangzeb, Sajjad Ali Haider
2019 IEEE Access  
Proceeding miniaturization in the VLSI circuits continues to pose challenges to the conventionally used synchronous design style in microprocessors. These include the distribution of clock in the GHz range, robustness to delay variations, reduction in electromagnetic interference, and energy conservation, to name a few. The asynchronous logic has been known for its ability to address the aforementioned challenges by means of the closed-loop handshake protocols, instead of notorious clock
more » ... . Because of these advantages, there have been numerous attempts on building general and special purpose microprocessors during the last three decades. Still, however, the number of asynchronous processors commercially available is scarce, mainly due to an insufficient electronic design and automation tools support, an ambiguous design flow and testing mechanisms for asynchronous logic and, most importantly, absence of a forum to look for relevant works, explaining the design steps and tools for such microprocessors. This paper is intended to bridge this gap by 1) reviewing the design principles of asynchronous logic, including classification, signaling conventions, and pipelining approaches; 2) presenting the complete design flow and available electronic design and automation tools; 3) developing an encyclopedia of various general and special purpose microprocessors proposed by far; and 4) presenting an evaluation of those works in terms of area on the die and performance metrics. This paper will also serve as guidelines for the asynchronous microprocessor design and implementation in all phases from specification to tape-out. INDEX TERMS Asynchronous logic, electronic design and automation, microprocessor. 33978 2169-3536
doi:10.1109/access.2019.2903126 fatcat:rwtsay62xbenhn5cgwzszhf4lm