Temperature-Compensated DVFS Improves Energy Efficiency

October 26, 2017 by Paul Shepard

Sonics, Inc. and Moortec, specialists in embedded in-chip sensing, today announced their partnership that integrates the companies’ products to provide advanced power management techniques to system-on-chip (SoC) and MCU designers.

The partnership couples Sonics’ ICE-P3™ with Moortec’s compelling Temperature Sensors to enable temperature-compensated, dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) in chip designs intended for power-sensitive devices such as mobile/handheld and the Internet of Things (IoT). The partnership solution is available immediately.

Employing DVFS enables chip designers to dramatically reduce energy consumption by lowering frequency to match dynamic throughput conditions and simultaneously lowering the voltage to the minimum that safely supports that frequency.

However, the minimum voltage depends upon both semiconductor process skew and on-chip temperature, which frequently causes energy-wasting overdesign to cover worst-case process and temperature conditions.

While it is increasingly common to re-optimize voltage values for process skew during manufacturing test, compensating for temperature requires on-chip thermal monitoring. Thermal sensors also provide invaluable alarm conditions that warn of thermal runaway conditions.

The Moortec Embedded Temperature Sensor IP product line offers high testability and high accuracy and allows for device performance optimization and device characterization.Features and benefits of the Moortec temperature sensing technology include:

  • Fine-Grain DVFS schemes
  • Device characterization
  • Thermal runaway avoidance
  • Thermal profiling, security and thermal (fan) control
  • Life-time reliability monitoring
  • 40nm, 28nm and FinFET

ICE-P3 is the IP industry’s first product to automate DVFS implementation and is the newest member of the ICE-Grain™ Family of Energy Processing Units (EPUs) that identifies, sequences, and controls power state transitions in hardware up to 500X faster than conventional software-based approaches.

In the combined solution, the EPU modulates the requested voltage to deliver a desired frequency based upon directly-connected temperature sensor data. Additionally, thermal alarms may be connected to the EPU to force power state changes that reduce heat generation, such as slowing down or shutting off IP cores or subsystems.

“We are on a mission to bring sophisticated power management capabilities to mainstream SoC and MCU designers,” said Grant Pierce, CEO of Sonics. “This partnership with Moortec gives our mutual customers access to automated DVFS capabilities compensated by embedded temperature sensor data. With this solution, designers can make their chips significantly more energy efficient and get the most out of the process technology.”

“Accurate and robust thermal sensing on chip is a corner-stone to the realization of efficient optimization strategies. Moortec is pleased to be supporting the compelling range of EPU products being developed by Sonics for our advanced node partners,” said Stephen Crosher, CEO of Moortec.