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Seminar Report





This is to certify that Seminar Report entitled clock-less chip .This seminar was presented satisfactorily at Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology, sarang by Debashree Debashrita, 0901105043 in partial fulfillment of requirement for her 6th semester B.Tech. This report has not been submitted for any other examination and does not form part of any other course undergone by the candidate.

GUIDE Professor S.N. Mishra

HOD,DEPT OF CSE Professor S.N. Mishra

I express deep sense of gratitude to Professor S.N. Mishra, Head of the Department, Computer Science & Engineering without whose valuable suggestions and guidance, creation of this Seminar documentation wouldnt have been possible. It was a great pleasure and honor to work under him and I hope many more fruitful associations in the years to come. His kindness and affection will remain with me forever. I also owe the gratitude due towards other faculty members. I would also like to thank Computer Science Branch, CSE for their help, through provoking discussions invigorating suggestions extended to me with immense care, zeal throughout the work.




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LIST OF FIGURES 1. A Brief history 2. Speed Comparison Diagram 3. Figure3 4. Figure4

Clock-less chips are the electronic circuit which do not required a clock circuit or a global clock signal, but instead need only wait for the signal that indicate completion of instruction and operation The clock-less chips are implemented in the asynchronous circuit[1]. The problems with synchronous circuit such as low performance, low speed, high power dissipation, electronic noise can be avoided by implementing the clock-less chip in asynchronous circuit. To achieve asynchronous as final goal one must throw away the global clock, standardize the components and must implement a clock-less chip. This is a very new area of research and design and testing but more scientists and engineers are dedicated to this, then for surety it is the future technology for mobile electronic device [2]. Key word: global clock, asynchronous circuit, clocked circuit.

2 THEORY CHAPTER1 INTRODUCTION --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------How fast is your personal computer? When people ask this question, they are typically referring to the frequency of a minuscule clock inside the computer, a crystal oscillator that sets the basic rhythm used throughout the machine. In a computer with a speed of one gigahertz, for example, the crystal "ticks" a billion times a second. Every action of the computer takes place in tiny steps, each a billionth of a second long. A simple transfer of data may take only one step; complex calculations may take many steps. All operations, however, must begin and end according to the clock's timing signals. The use of a central clock also creates problems. As speeds have increased, distributing the timing signals has become more and more difficult. Present-day transistors can process data so quickly that they can accomplish several steps in the time that it takes a wire to carry a signal from one side of the chip to the other. Keeping the rhythm identical in all parts of a large chip requires careful design and a great deal of electrical power. Wouldn't it be nice to have an alternative? Clock-less approach, which uses a technique known as asynchronous logic, differs from conventional computer circuit design in that the switching on and off of digital circuits is controlled individually by specific pieces of data rather than by a tyrannical clock that forces all of the millions of the circuits on a chip to march in unison. It overcomes all the disadvantages of a clocked circuit such as slow speed, high power consumption, high electromagnetic noise etc. For these reasons the clock-less technology is considered as the technology which is going to drive majority of electronic chips in the coming years.


The clock is a tiny crystal oscillator that resides in the heart of every microprocessor chip. The clock is what which sets the basic rhythm used throughout the machine. The clock orchestrates the synchronous dance of electrons that course through the hundreds of millions of wires and transistors of a modern computer. Such crystals which tick up to 2 billion times each second in the fastest of todays desktop personal computers, dictate the timing of every circuit in every one of the chips that add, subtract, divide, multiply and move the ones and zeros that are the basic stuff of the information age. Conventional chips (synchronous) operate under the control of a central clock, which samples data in the registers at precisely timed intervals. Computer chips of today are synchronous: they contain a main clock which controls the timing of the entire chips. One advantage of a clock is that, the clock signals to the devices of the chip when to input or output. This functionality of the synchronous design makes designing the chip much easier. There are problems that go along with the clock, however. Clock speeds are now in the gigahertz range and there is not much room for speedup before physical realities start to complicate things. With a gigahertz clock powering a chip, signals barely have enough time to make it across the chip before the next clock tick. At this point, speedup up the clock frequency could become disastrous. This is when a chip that is not constricted by clock speeds could become very valuable.



2.1CLOCK LIMITATIONS There are problems that go along with the clock, however. Clock speeds are now in the gigahertz range and there is not much room for Speed up before physical realities start to complicate things. With a gigahertz Clock powering a chip, signals barely have enough time to make it across the Chip before the next clock tick. At this point, speedup up the clock frequency could become disastrous. This is when a chip that is not constricted by clock speeds could become very valuable. One can create a clock that is so fast and it sends its timing signals to the logic circuits which are governed by the clock timing signals. These logic circuits are supposed to respond to every tick of the clock and yet when they can compile to match the speed then logic circuits will be not optimum according to the speed of clock and hence the input and output can go incorrect. This will result hardware problem since one has to assemble chips to achieve the speed of clock and hence much more complicated situation arise. 2.2 ASYNCRONOUS VIEW By throwing out the clock, chip makers will be able to escape from huge Power dissipation. Clock-less chips draw power only when there is useful work to do, enabling a huge savings in battery-driven devices. Like a team of horses that can only run as fast as its slowest member, a clocked chip can run no faster than its most slothful piece of logic; the answer isnt guaranteed until every part completes its work. By contrast, the transistors on an asynchronous chip can swap information independently, without needing to wait for everything else. The result? Instead of the entire chip running at the speed of its slowest components, it can run at the average speed of all components. At both Intel and Sun, this approach has led to prototype chips that run two to three times faster than comparable products using conventional circuitry. Another advantage of clock-less chips is that they give off very low levels of Electromagnetic noise. The faster the clock, the more difficult it is to prevent a device from interfering with other devices; dispensing with the clock all but

6 Eliminates this problem. The combination of low noise and low power consumption makes asynchronous chips a natural choice for mobile devices.

7 CHAPTER3 CIRCUITS PROBLEMS OF SYNCHRONOUS -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------One problem is speed. A chip can only work as fast as its slowest component. Therefore, if one part of the chip is especially slow, the other parts of the chip are forced to sit idle. This wasted computing time is obviously detrimental to the speed of the chip. New problems with speeding up a clocked chip are just around the corner. Clock frequencies are getting so fast that signals can barely cross the chip on one clock cycle. When we get to the point where the clock cannot drive 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 that doubling the frequency of the clock does not double the chip speed, therefore blindly trying to increase chip speed by increasing frequency without considering other options is foolish. The other major problem with a clocked design is power consumption. The clock consumes more power than another other component of the chip. The most disturbing thing about this is that the clock serves no direct computational use. A clock does not perform operations on information; it simply orchestrates the computational parts of the computer. New problems with power consumption are arising. As the number of transistors on a chip 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. These chips need to be even more conservative with power consumption 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.

CHAPTER4 ASYNCHRONOUS CIRCUIT --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Clock-less (also called asynchronous, self timed or event driven) chips dispense with the timepiece. The figure below gives an idea of working of an asynchronous circuit. In this particular scheme (which is called a duel rail circuit which will be discussed later), data moves instead under the control of local "handshake" signals (lines below) that indicate when work has been completed and is ready for the next logic operation.

As we can see above there is the usual logical circuitry and instead of a clock signal which controls the circuit, there are two lines on the top and bottom. The wires are used to transfer the data bits and the control bits together. So there is no separate control signal going across the circuit. The control signal is encoded within the data that is being transferred. This control signals act as handshaking and handoff signals which indicates when the component is ready for the next logical operation. There are different ways to implement an asynchronous circuit. The next part is about various types of implementation.

9 4.1MERITS OF ASYNCHRONOUS CIRCUITS There are mainly three advantages of clockless design. They are Increase in speed. Reduced power consumption. Less electromagnetic noise. The first of these advantages is speed. Chips can run at the average speed of all its components instead of the speed of the slowest component, as was the case with a clocked design. The transistors on an asynchronous chip can swap information independently, without needing to wait for everything else. At both Intel and Sun micro systems, this approach has led to prototype chips that run two to three times faster than comparable products using conventional circuitry. Therefore the speed of an asynchronous design is not limited by the size of the chip. An example of how much an asynchronous design can improve speed is the asynchronous Pentium designed by Intel in 1997 that runs three times as fast as the synchronous equivalent. Another crucial advantage of clock-less chips is the reduction in power consumption. The reason for this is that asynchronous chips use power only during computations, while a clocked circuit is always running. The Intel Pentium referred above ran three times faster than clocked equivalent with half the power. The third advantage of the clock-less design is that it produces less electromagnetic noise which interferes with the working frequencies of other signals.


The above figure of the bucket brigade can be used to describe the flow of data in a computer. A synchronous computer system is like a bucket brigade in which each person follows the tick tock rhythm of a clock. When the clock ticks, each person pushes a bucket forward to the next person down the line (top). When the clock tocks, each person grasps the bucket pushed forward by the preceding person (middle). An asynchronous system, in contrast, is like an ordinary bucket brigade: each person who holds a bucket can pass it down the line as soon as the next persons hands are free. It is quite evident from the above metaphor, why the clock-less chip is faster and effective. The clock-less chips can run on the average speed of all of its components rather than adopting the speed of the slowest member. This is because of the fact that an action is not restricted by the rules like those in a clocked design.


The above graphics is obtained from the Philips official website. It illustrates the power saving character of the clockless chip. This is an experiment to find out the heat emitted by a chip by placing it under special kind of light. The chip on the left side is a synchronous chip and the one to the right is its asynchronous equivalent. The red spots on the chip indicate the positions where heat is dissipated. It is clear from the figure that the synchronous emit more heat as it has the more number of red spots on the light emission measurements. It is clear that a chip which produces the more heat would consume more power. Clearly synchronous chips consume more power than the asynchronous equivalent. The reason for this is that asynchronous chips use power only during computations, while a clocked chip always consumes power because the chip is always running. The clock together with its timing circuits not only take up a good area of the chip, but also account for 30% of the total power consumed by the chip. So removing this would surely give an increase in life of the battery. It is also important to note that the idle parts of a clockless chip consume negligible amount of power.

12 The above said reason is more applicable in the case of mobile electronics where a battery is used to drive the chip. One would think that it is not much of an issue when we consider the case of a computer or other devices which can be plugged. But in this case the chip can cut the cost needed in the design of these equipments by reducing the need for cooling fans, air-conditioning and other cooling equipments in order to prevent overheating. The amount of power saved will depend on the machines pattern of activity. Systems with parts that act occasionally benefit more than systems that act continuously. Most computers have components, such as the floating-point arithmetic unit, that often remain idle for long periods.

NOISE Now a day the demand for mobile devices is getting higher and higher. Everything around is becoming wireless. These devices work by sending and receiving radio signals. When a clocked circuit is used in these types of devices the noise generated by the large frequency of the clock interferes with the working frequency of the mobile devices. In order to avoid errors caused by these noise signals, designers would not be free to provide the scale of integration they wish. Asynchronous systems produce less radio interference than synchronous machines. Because a clocked system uses a fixed rhythm, it broadcasts a strong radio signal at its operating frequency and at the harmonics of that frequency. Such signals can interfere with cellular phones, televisions and aircraft navigation systems that operate at the same frequencies. Asynchronous systems lack a fixed rhythm, so they spread their radiated energy broadly across the radio spectrum, emitting less at any one frequency.


Yet another benefit of asynchronous design is that it can be used to build bridges between clocked computers running at different speeds. Many computing clusters, for instance, link fast PCs with slower machines. These clusters can tackle complex problems by dividing the computational tasks among the PCs. Such a system is inherently asynchronous: different parts march to different beats. Moving data controlled by one clock to the control of another clock requires asynchronous bridges, because the data may be "out of sync" with the receiving clock. Finally, although asynchronous design can be challenging, it can also be wonderfully flexible. Because the circuits of an asynchronous system need not share a common rhythm, designers have more freedom in choosing the system's parts and determining how they interact. Moreover, replacing any part with a faster version will improve the speed of the entire system. In contrast, increasing the speed of a clocked system usually requires upgrading every part. A final advantage of the clockless chip is the ability to provide superior encryption. This is because there is no way for a hacker to track regularly timed signals, which are given away by the clock in a synchronous design. The hackers do not know what to look at. This has significant potential as security becomes an increasing priority. This becomes even more critical as computer all over the world become more closely connected and are sharing confidential material. Improved encryption makes asynchronous circuits an obvious choice for smart cardsthe chip-endowed plastic cards beginning to be used for such security sensitive applications as storage of medical records, electronic funds exchange and personal identification.


HOW CLOCKLESS CHIPS WORKS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Beyond a new generation of design-and-testing equipment, successful development of clock-less chips requires the understanding of asynchronous design. Such talent is scarce, as asynchronous principles fly in the face of the almost every university teaches its engineering students. Conventional chips can have values arrive at a register incorrectly and out of sequence; but in a clock-less chip, the values that arrive in registers must be correct the first time. One way to achieve this goal is to pay close attention to such details as the lengths of the wires and the number of logic gates connected to a given register, thereby assuring that signals travel to the register in the proper logical sequence. But that means being far more meticulous about the physical design than synchronous designers have been trained to be. An alternative is to open up a separate communication channel on the chip. Clocked chips represent ones and zeroes using low and high voltages on a single wire, "dual-rail" circuits, on the other hand, use two wires, giving the chip communications pathways, not only to send bits, but also to send "handshake" signals to indicate when work has been completed. Fair additionally proposes replacing the conventional system of digital logic with what known as "null convention logic," a scheme that identifies not only "yes" and "no," but also "no answer yet"-a convenient way for clock-less chips to recognize when an operation has not yet been completed. All of these ideas and approaches are different enough that executing them could confound the mind of an engineer trained to design to the beat of a clock. Its no surprise that the two newest asynchronous startups, Asynchronous Digital Devices and Self-Timed Solutions, are populating now, and clock-less-chip research has been going on the longest. For a chip to be successful, all three elements-design tools, manufacturing efficiency and experienced designers-need to come together. The asynchronous cadre has very promising ideas. There is now way one can obtain pure asynchronous circuits to be used in the complete design of the system and this is one of major barrier of clock-less implementation but the circuits were successfully standardized and hence they do not have to be in synchronous mode. And hence handshakes were the solution to overcome synchronization. One component which needs to communicate with the other uses the handshake signals to achieve the establishment of connection and then with set up the time at which is going to

15 send data and at the other side another component will also use the same kind of handshakes to harden the connection and wait for that time to receive data.

In circuits implemented by clock less chips, data do not have to move at Random and out of order as in synchronous in which the movement of data is no essential. In asynchronous circuits data are treated as very important aspect and hence do not move at any time they only and only move when are required to move in case such as transmission between several components. This technique has offered low power consumption and low electromagnetic noise and also there will of course be smooth data streaming.


APPLICATIONS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Clock-less design is inevitable in the future of chip design because of the two major advantages of speed and power consumption, but where will we first see these designs in use? The first place we'll see, clock-less designs in the lab. Many prototypes will be necessary to create reliable designs. Manufacturing techniques must also be improved so the chips can be mass-produced. The second place we'll see these chips are in mobile electronics. This is an ideal place to implement a clock-less chip because of the minimal power consumption. Also, low levels of electromagnetic noise creates less interference; less interference is critical in designs with many components packed very tightly, as is the case with mobile electronics. The third place is in personal computers (PCs). Clock-less designs will occur here last because of the competitive PC market. It is essential in that market to create an efficient design that is reasonably priced. A manufacturing cost increase of a couple cents per chip can cause an entire line of computers to fail because of the large cost increase passed onto the customer. Therefore, the manufacturing process must be improved to create a reasonably priced chip. A final place that asynchronous design may be used is encryption devices. The reason for this is there are no regularly timed signals for hackers to look for. This becomes even more critical as computer all over the world become more closely connected and are sharing confidential material. They will be also used in smart cars as they provide excellent security.

17 CHAPTER7 CHALLENGES ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. Interfacing between synchronous and asynchronous . Many devices available now are synchronous in nature. . Special circuits are needed to align them. 2. Lack of expertise. 3. Lack of tools. 4. Engineers are not trained in these fields. 5. Academically, no courses available.

CONCLUSION -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Why isnt it popular? Why doesnt industry currently use asynchronous designs (with a handful of exceptions)? The main cause is risk. Asynchronous design techniques are sometimes seen as unproven, despite a number of academic (and industry) successes. Further, any asynchronous design will incur additional cost in training engineers to use techniques they didnt learn in school. Finally, tool development is likely seen as an obstacle. Moreover, at least up to now, industry has been getting by without asynchronous design. So far, the clocked designs have been feasible (if occasionally expensive), and low power does not yet dominate demand. Should it be used? My conclusion is an emphatic yes! Clocks are getting faster, while chips are getting bigger, both of which make clock distribution harder. Chips are also becoming more heterogeneous, with functions like memory and network interfaces being considered, all of which complicates the global timing analysis necessary for a synchronous design. Finally, we are entering an age when processors will be just about everywhere, and this will require very low power designs. Its just not practical to expect a clean, skew-free clock for every (say) piece of clothing with a processing element. But this can only happen if more focus, especially at the university level, is given to asynchronous design. Most of todays designers dont understand it well enough to use it, and may even regard it with suspicion. It is certainly a challenge, but just as the software community is moving towards more concurrency, the hardware community must move to incorporate asynchronous logic.


REFERENCES --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. clock-less chip, accessed on 2.04.2012

2. clock-less chip, accessed on15.03.2012