This paper describes an investigation of potential advantages and pitfalls of applying an asynchronous design methodology to an advanced microprocessor architecture. A prototype complex instruction set length decoding and steering unit was implemented using self-timed circuits. [The Revolving Asynchronous Pentium ® Processor Instruction Decoder (RAPPID) design implemented the complete Pentium II ® 32-bit MMX instruction set.] The prototype chip was fabricated on a 0.25-CMOS process and tested successfully. Results show significant advantages-in particular, performance of 2.5-4.5 instructions per nanosecond-with manageable risks using this design technology. The prototype achieves three times the throughput and half the latency, dissipating only half the power and requiring about the same area as the fastest commercial 400-MHz clocked circuit fabricated on the same process.
This paper describes an investigation of potential advantages and risks of applying an aggressive asynchronous design methodology to Intel Architecture. RAPPID ("Revolving Asynchronous Pentium® Processor Instruction Decoder"), a prototype IA32 instruction length decoding and steering unit, was implemented using self-timed techniques. RAPPID chip was fabricated on a 0.25µ CMOS process and tested successfully. Results show significant advantages-in particular, performance of 2.5-4.5 instructions/nS-with manageable risks using this design technology. RAPPID achieves three times the throughput and half the latency, dissipating only half the power and requiring about the same area as an existing 400MHz clocked circuit.
We "naturalize" the handshake communication links of a self-timed system by assigning the capabilities of filling and draining a link and of storing its full or empty status to the link itself. This contrasts with assigning these capabilities to the joints, the modules connected by the links, as was previously done. Under naturalized communication, the differences between Micropipeline, GasP, Mousetrap, and Click circuits are seen only in the links -the joints become identical; past, present, and future link and joint designs become interchangeable.We also "naturalize" the actions of a self-timed system, giving actions status equal to states -for the purpose of silicon test and debug. We partner traditional scan test techniques dedicated to state with new test capabilities dedicated to action. To each and every joint, we add a novel proper-start-stop circuit, called MrGO, that permits or forbids the action of that joint. MrGO, pronounced "Mister GO," makes it possible to (1) exit an initial state cleanly to start circuit operation in a delay-insensitive manner, (2) stop a running circuit in a clean and delay-insensitive manner, (3) single-or multi-step circuit operations for test and debug, and (4) test sub-systems at speed.
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