Approximate logic circuits: Theory and applications
CMOS technology scaling, the process of shrinking transistor dimensions based on Moore's law, has been the thrust behind increasingly powerful integrated circuits for over half a century. As dimensions are scaled to few tens of nanometers, process and environmental variations can significantly alter transistor characteristics, thus degrading reliability and reducing performance gains in CMOS designs with technology scaling. Although design solutions proposed in recent years to improve reliability of CMOS designs are power-efficient, the performance penalty associated with these solutions further reduces performance gains with technology scaling, and hence these solutions are not well-suited for high-performance designs.
This thesis proposes approximate logic circuits as a new logic synthesis paradigm for reliable, high-performance computing systems. Given a specification, an approximate logic circuit is functionally equivalent to the given specification for a "significant" portion of the input space, but has a smaller delay and power as compared to a circuit implementation of the original specification. This contributions of this thesis include (i) a general theory of approximation and efficient algorithms for automated synthesis of approximations for unrestricted random logic circuits, (ii) logic design solutions based on approximate circuits to improve reliability of designs with negligible performance penalty, and (iii) efficient decomposition algorithms based on approximate circuits to improve performance of designs during logic synthesis. This thesis concludes with other potential applications of approximate circuits and identifies open problems in logic decomposition and approximate circuit synthesis.
0544: Electrical engineering
0984: Computer science