Reducing Power Loss, Cost and Complexity of SoC Power Delivery Using Integrated 3-Level Voltage Regulators

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Reducing Power Loss, Cost and Complexity of SoC Power Delivery Using Integrated 3-Level Voltage Regulators

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Title: Reducing Power Loss, Cost and Complexity of SoC Power Delivery Using Integrated 3-Level Voltage Regulators
Author: Kim, Wonyoung
Citation: Kim, Wonyoung. 2013. Reducing Power Loss, Cost and Complexity of SoC Power Delivery Using Integrated 3-Level Voltage Regulators. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Traditional methods of system-on-chip (SoC) power management based on dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) is limited by 1) cores/IP blocks sharing a voltage domain provided by off-chip voltage regulators (VR) and 2) slow voltage scaling time \((<0.1V/\mu s)\). This global, slow DVFS cannot track the increasingly heterogeneous, fluctuating performance requirements of individual microprocessor cores and SoC components. Furthermore, traditional off-chip VRs add significant area overhead and component cost on the board. This thesis explores replacing a large portion of existing off-chip VRs with integrated voltage regulators (IVR) that can scale the voltage at a 50 mV/ns rate, which is 500 times faster than microsecond-scale voltage scaling with existing off-chip VRs. IVRs occupy 10 times smaller footprint than off-chip VRs, making it easy to duplicate them to provide per-core or per-IP-block voltage control. This thesis starts by summarizing the benefits of using IVRs to deliver power to SoCs. Based on a simulation study targeting a 1.6W, 4-core SoC, I show that greater than 20% energy savings is possible with fast, per-core DVFS enabled by IVRs. Next, I present two stand-alone IVR test-chips converting 1.8V and 2.4V to 0.4-1.4V while delivering maximum 1W to the output. Both test-chips incorporate a 3-level VR topology, which is suitable for integration because the topology allows for much smaller inductors (1nH) than existing inductor-based buck VRs. I also discuss reasons behind lower-than-simulated efficiencies in the test-chips and ways to improve. Finally, I conclude with future process technologies that can boost IVR conversion efficiencies and power densities.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10423839
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