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A Synchronous Chip

A Synchronous Chip

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Published by: vishal_9938 on Nov 21, 2009
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11/21/2009

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1. INTRODUCTION
Computer chips of today are synchronous. They contain a main clock,which controls the timing of the entire chips. There are problems, however,involved with these clocked designs that are common today.One problem is speed. A chip can only work as fast as its slowestcomponent. Therefore, if one part of the chip is especially slow, the other  parts of the chip are forced to sit idle. This wasted computed time isobviously detrimental to the speed of the chip. New problems with speeding up a clocked chip are just around thecorner. Clock frequencies are getting so fast that signals can barely cross thechip in one clock cycle. When we get to the point where the clock cannotdrive the entire chip, we’ll be forced to come up with a solution. One possible solution is a second clock, but this will incur overhead and power consumption, so this is a poor solution. It is also important to note thatdoubling the frequency of the clock does not double the chip speed,therefore blindly trying to increase chip speed by increasing frequencywithout considering other options is foolish.The other major problem with c clocked design is poweconsumption. The clock consumes more power that any other component of the chip. The most disturbing thing about this is that the clock serves nodirect computational use. A clock does not perform operations oninformation; it simply orchestrates the computational parts of the computer. New problems with power consumption are arising. As the number of transistors on a chi increases, so does the power used by the clock.Therefore, as we design more complicated chips, power consumption becomes an even more crucial topic. Mobile electronics are the target for many chips.
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These chips need to be even more conservative with poweconsumption in order to have a reasonable battery lifetime.The natural solution to the above problems, as you may have guessed,is to eliminate the source of these headaches: the clock.The Caltech Asynchronous Microprocessor is the world’s firstasynchronous microprocessor (1989).
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2. DISCUSSION
Asynchronous, or clock less, design has advantages over thesynchronous design.The first of these advantages is speed. Chips can run at the averagespeed of all its components instead of the speed of its slowest component,as was the case with a clocked design. Also the need to have a clock running at a speed such that the signal can reach all parts of the chip iseliminated. Therefore, the speed of an asynchronous design is not limited bythe size of the chip.An example of how much an asynchronous design can improve speedis the asynchronous Pentium designed by Intel in 1997 that runs three timesas fast as the synchronous equivalent. This speedup is certainly significantand proves the usefulness of a clock less design.The other advantage of a clock less design is power consumption.Special light emission measurements of a synchronous chip (left) andan asynchronous chip (right) with the same digital functionality under thesame operational conditions indicate hoe much power the chips dissipate.
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