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NanoWatt Design Completes Phase I of National Science Foundation Grant to Improve Energy Efficiency of Vision Processor

NanoWatt Design Receives Grant from the National Science Foundation to Advance Sleep Convention Logic™
MAY 2013

Offering new technologies that dramatically improve energy efficiency of electronics for mobile or battery-operated devices.

Smart Phone MessageNanoWatt Design is a technology solution provider for ultra-low voltage, low power integrated circuits.

The semiconductor industry is facing continuous demand for circuits having reduced power consumption. Extending battery life is a top priority for all designers of battery operated devices. For mobile electronics, reduced power consumption is a critical differentiator. Even in applications where AC power is readily available, designers struggle to keep device operating temperature under control and opportunities to reduce power consumption are constantly sought. Overall, power consumption is the most important driver for all segments of the semiconductor market in the foreseeable future.

The obvious way to reduce energy consumption is to reduce supply voltage. As supply voltage drops, nominal delay increases rapidly. However, delay variation increases even more rapidly. Conventional synchronous design approach is not well suited to deal with such variation. Whereas asynchronous solutions have not been adopted at 1.0 V and above, at near-threshold voltages such as 0.6V and below these same solutions are very attractive.

NanoWatt Design has a portfolio of tools targeted at reducing power consumption. This tool set is particularly applicable to low voltage microcontrollers that can off-load tasks from a general purpose processor. For example, first generation Sensor Hubs were adapted from existing microcontrollers to allow the application processor to remain in sleep mode as long as possible. NanoWatt Design is approaching Sensor Hub design using a custom mix of asynchronous and synchronous architectures to optimally trade-off performance and area as needed to reduce overall energy consumption. At 0.6V and below, the dominant concerns are effects of random process variation on power and performance. NanoWatt Design has unique capability to develop robust, optimized solutions.