Sunday, August 12, 2012

VLSI Circuits


Digital VLSI circuits are predominantly CMOS based. The way normal blocks like latches and gates are implemented is different from what students have seen so far, but the behaviour remains the same. All the miniaturisation involves new things to consider. A lot of thought has to go into actual implementations as well as design. Let us look at some of the factors involved ...

1. Circuit Delays. Large complicated circuits running at very high frequencies have one big problem to tackle - the problem of delays in propagation of signals through gates and wires ... even for areas a few micrometers across! The operation speed is so large that as the delays add up, they can actually become comparable to the clock speeds.

2. Power. Another effect of high operation frequencies is increased consumption of power. This has two-fold effect - devices consume batteries faster, and heat dissipation increases. Coupled with the fact that surface areas have decreased, heat poses a major threat to the stability of the circuit itself.

3. Layout.
Laying out the circuit components is task common to all branches of electronics. Whats so special in our case is that there are many possible ways to do this; there can be multiple layers of different materials on the same silicon, there can be different arrangements of the smaller parts for the same component and so on.

The power dissipation and speed in a circuit present a trade-off; if we try to optimise on one, the other is affected. The choice between the two is determined by the way we chose the layout the circuit components. Layout can also affect the fabrication of VLSI chips, making it either easy or difficult to implement the components on the silicon.

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