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Dense, Efficient Chip-to-Chip Communication at the Extremes of Computing


Loh Rui Yan, Matthew (2013) Dense, Efficient Chip-to-Chip Communication at the Extremes of Computing. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/FQ18-2X96.


The scalability of CMOS technology has driven computation into a diverse range of applications across the power consumption, performance and size spectra. Communication is a necessary adjunct to computation, and whether this is to push data from node-to-node in a high-performance computing cluster or from the receiver of wireless link to a neural stimulator in a biomedical implant, interconnect can take up a significant portion of the overall system power budget. Although a single interconnect methodology cannot address such a broad range of systems efficiently, there are a number of key design concepts that enable good interconnect design in the age of highly-scaled CMOS: an emphasis on highly-digital approaches to solving ‘analog’ problems, hardware sharing between links as well as between different functions (such as equalization and synchronization) in the same link, and adaptive hardware that changes its operating parameters to mitigate not only variation in the fabrication of the link, but also link conditions that change over time. These concepts are demonstrated through the use of two design examples, at the extremes of the power and performance spectra.

A novel all-digital clock and data recovery technique for high-performance, high density interconnect has been developed. Two independently adjustable clock phases are generated from a delay line calibrated to 2 UI. One clock phase is placed in the middle of the eye to recover the data, while the other is swept across the delay line. The samples produced by the two clocks are compared to generate eye information, which is used to determine the best phase for data recovery. The functions of the two clocks are swapped after the data phase is updated; this ping-pong action allows an infinite delay range without the use of a PLL or DLL. The scheme's generalized sampling and retiming architecture is used in a sharing technique that saves power and area in high-density interconnect. The eye information generated is also useful for tuning an adaptive equalizer, circumventing the need for dedicated adaptation hardware.

On the other side of the performance/power spectra, a capacitive proximity interconnect has been developed to support 3D integration of biomedical implants. In order to integrate more functionality while staying within size limits, implant electronics can be embedded onto a foldable parylene (‘origami’) substrate. Many of the ICs in an origami implant will be placed face-to-face with each other, so wireless proximity interconnect can be used to increase communication density while decreasing implant size, as well as facilitate a modular approach to implant design, where pre-fabricated parylene-and-IC modules are assembled together on-demand to make custom implants. Such an interconnect needs to be able to sense and adapt to changes in alignment. The proposed array uses a TDC-like structure to realize both communication and alignment sensing within the same set of plates, increasing communication density and eliminating the need to infer link quality from a separate alignment block. In order to distinguish the communication plates from the nearby ground plane, a stimulus is applied to the transmitter plate, which is rectified at the receiver to bias a delay generation block. This delay is in turn converted into a digital word using a TDC, providing alignment information.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Alignment Sensor; SerDes; Clock and Data Recovery; Proximity Communication; Capacitive Coupling; Alignment Sensor; Origami Implants
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Emami, Azita
Thesis Committee:
  • Emami, Azita (chair)
  • Rutledge, David B.
  • Tai, Yu-Chong
  • Hajimiri, Ali
  • Weinreb, Sander
Defense Date:3 May 2013
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05082013-113725728
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7675
Deposited By: Rui Yan Loh
Deposited On:13 May 2013 18:35
Last Modified:06 Nov 2019 18:38

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