Energy-Quality Scalable Adaptive VLSI Circuits and Systems beyond Approximate Computing

Massimo Alioto
ECE Dept., National University of Singapore, Singapore.


In this paper, the concept of energy-quality (EQ) scalable systems is introduced and explored, as novel design dimension to scale down energy in integrated systems for the Internet of Things (IoT). EQ-scalable systems explicitly trade off energy and quality at different levels of abstraction (``vertically''), and sub-systems (``horizontally''), creating new opportunities to improve energy efficiency for a given task and expected ``quality''. The concept of quality slack, a taxonomy of techniques to trade off energy and quality and a general EQ-scalable architecture are presented. The generality of the EQ-scaling concept is shown through several examples, ranging from logic to analog circuits, to memories and Analog-Digital Converters.
Challenges, opportunities and expected energy gains are discussed to gain an understanding of the potential of the EQscalable integrated circuits and systems. As a result, EQ scalable systems are expected to substantially improve the energy efficiency of systems for IoT, compensating the limited energy gains that will be offered by technology and voltage scaling.

Keywords: VLSI design, Energy efficiency, Energy-quality tradeoff, Adaptive energy mitigation.

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