Timing Closure in Chip Design

ACO Seminar
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - 3:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 269
Stephan Held – University of Bonn
Annette Rohrs
A central characteristic of a computer chip is the speed at which it processes data, determined by the time it takes electrical signals to travel through the chip. A major challenge in the design of a chip is to achieve timing closure, that is to find a physical realization fulfilling the speed specifications. We give an overview over the major tasks for optimizing the performance of computer chips and present several new algorithms. For the topology generation of repeater trees, we introduce a variant of the Steiner tree problem and present fast algorithm that balances efficiently between the resource consumption and performance. Another indispensable task is gate sizing, a discrete optimization problem with nonlinear or PDE constraints, for which a fast heuristic is introduced. The effectiveness in practice is demonstrated by comparing with newly developed lower bounds for the achievable delay. We conclude with a variant of the time-cost tradeoff problem from project management. In contrast to the usual formulation cycles are allowed. We present a new method to compute the time-cost tradeoff curve in such instances using combinatorial algorithms. Several problems in chip design can be modeled as time-cost tradeoff problems, e.g. threshold voltage optimization of plane assignment.