One-On-One: Dark Silicon

Professor Michael Taylor’s research group at UC San Diego is studying ways to exploit dark silicon to optimize circuit designs for energy efficiency. He spoke with Semiconductor Engineering about the post-Dennard scaling regime, energy efficiency from integrated circuits all the way up to data centers, and how the manufacturing side can help. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. (F... » read more

Fighting Dark Silicon With Specialized Hardware

Looking at an SoC design from an architecture viewpoint, I’m hearing more discussion lately about the option of offloading tasks to specialized hardware. Especially where dark silicon is concerned, rather than having four or eight ARM processors — all with the same complexity — or cores like graphics processors, if you cannot use them all at full performance and they have to be shut o... » read more

Is Dark Silicon Wasted Silicon?

The concept of dark silicon sounds almost mysterious, but it is a simple matter of physics. With advances in technology nodes and the ability to pack more and more transistors on the same die, design engineers are reaching a wall where only a fraction of a design can be powered on due to power and thermal implications. Moreover, the challenges that force this kind of complex power managemen... » read more

Talking About Dark Silicon

Back in January, my article on dark silicon referenced work done by Michael Taylor and his research group at UC San Diego. I wasn’t able to arrange an interview with Dr. Taylor in time for that article, but we did have an extended conversation earlier this week. He pointed out that, while further decreases in threshold voltage are constrained by device leakage, the energy consumed by a circui... » read more

Darker Silicon

For the last several decades, integrated circuit manufacturers have focused their efforts on [getkc id="74" comment="Moore's Law"], increasing transistor density at constant cost. For much of that time, Dennard’s Law also held: As the dimensions of a device go down, so does power consumption. Smaller transistors ran faster, used less power, and cost less. As most readers already know, howe... » read more

The Multicore Processing Conundrum

We drive relentlessly into our technological future and often it seems like we’re upgrading our high-performance vehicle as it speeds forward. That’s no easy task, to be sure. We were roaring along fine, observing Moore’s Law, and then we hit a speed bump. So design teams quickly adopted multi-core designs to compensate for the fact that pushing up speeds on single-core CPUs was a melt... » read more

Computer Vision’s Enormous Challenges Ahead

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a constant, humming tension between what Moore's Law delivers and what consumers expect from electronics systems design. We're on the verge of seeing this in the coming decade in computer vision, an application that has enormous potential to transform society. In the meantime, enormous challenges and decisions lie ahead on the road to transformation. Embedded Vi... » read more

Dealing With New Bottlenecks

By Ed Sperling While the number of options for improving efficiency and performance in designs continues to increase, the number of challenges in getting chips at advanced process nodes out the door is increasing, too. Thinner wires, routing congestion, more power domains, IP integration and lithography issues are conspiring to make design much more difficult than in the past. So why aren... » read more

Tech Talk: Sonics CTO

Drew Wingard peels back the covers on dark silicon, the next big thing in semiconductors and what's needed to get there in a candid discussion with System-Level Design. [youtube vid=ciWTa2HGCkE] » read more

The Upside Of Dark Silicon

By Ed Sperling For many years the real challenge in IC design was in shrinking the components and features on a piece of silicon without burning up the chip or destroying signal integrity. Chipmakers have become quite adept at this over the past few decades. Too good, in fact. Now they are faced with a different kind of problem—what to do with all that extra silicon. Just as the long dist... » read more

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