doi: 10.7873/DATE.2015.0799

Towards Binary Circuit Models that Faithfully Capture Physical Solvability

Matthias Függer1,a, Robert Najvirt1,a, Thomas Nowak2 and Ulrich Schmid1,c

1Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria.

2École normale supérieure, Paris, France.


In contrast to analog models, binary circuit models are high-level abstractions that play an important role in assessing the correctness and performance characteristics of digital circuit designs: (i) modern circuit design relies on fast digital timing simulation tools and, hence, on binary-valued circuit models that faithfully model signal propagation, even throughout a complex design, and (ii) binary circuit models provide a level of abstraction that is amenable to formal correctness proofs. A mandatory feature of any such model is the ability to trace glitches and other short pulses precisely as they occur in physical circuits, as their presence may affect a circuit’s correctness and its performance characteristics.
Unfortunately, it was recently proved [Függer et al., ASYNC’13] that none of the existing binary-valued circuit models proposed so far, including the two most commonly used pure and inertial delay channels and any other bounded single-history channel, is realistic in the following sense: For the simple Short- Pulse Filtration (SPF) problem, which is related to a circuit's ability to suppress a single glitch, they showed that every bounded single-history channel either contradicts the unsolvability of SPF in bounded time or the solvability of SPF in unbounded time in physical circuits, i.e., no existing model correctly captures physical solvability with respect to glitch propagation.
We propose a binary circuit model, based on so-called involution channels, which do not suffer from this deficiency. In sharp contrast to what is possible with all the existing models, they allow to solve the SPF problem precisely when this is possible in physical circuits. To the best of our knowledge, our involution channel model is hence the very first binary circuit model that realistically models glitch propagation, which makes it a promising candidate for developing more accurate tools for simulation and formal verification of digital circuits.

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