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Dynamic Power Management – Closed Loop Voltage Scaling

Comments(1)Filed under: thermal, low-power, power, low power, PSO, voltage, shutoff, MSV, AVS, CPF, DVFS, power analysis, simulation, IR drop, LDO, adaptive, Dynamic power, RNM, wreal, frequency

This posting is part of a series of blogs on dynamic power management in digital-centric mixed-signal verification environments. In this post, I'll discuss open-loop and closed-loop voltage scaling.

In previous blogs, I covered some of the following topics:

  • Basics of dynamic power management
  • Very brief introduction to RNM (Real Number Modeling) for efficient simulation of mixed signal SoCs
  • How to create a controlled voltage source using a Specman testbench

Previous postings include:

Closed Loop Voltage Scaling

Dynamic Frequency and Voltage Scaling (DVFS) is used for power savings during off-peak processing times, and as a protective measure to avoid overheating.

Open-loop DVFS is the most commonly used form of DVFS. Here, the operating voltage point or nominal voltage is pre-determined for the target application and desired operating frequency. The aim is to run the device at the lowest possible voltage while achieving desired performance.

The actual clock speed of the device is determined by the PVT (Process, operating Voltage and junction Temperature) corners. The desired clock speed is achieved by scaling the voltage to the desired clock frequency based on statistical data for that process. The operating voltage point for each target frequency is typically stored in look-up tables and used by the power controller to scale voltage up and down as needed by the application, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Open-Loop Voltage Scaling

For safety reasons, there are typically large margins assigned to the operating voltage points for each target frequency in the look-up table for open-looped voltage scaling. To achieve the maximum power saving, there is a need to scale the voltages with a much finer granularity.

Since the actual operating speed also changes with junction temperature (PVT), there is a constant need to scale voltage to reach the optimal power reduction. This is achieved by introducing a feedback loop to the power controller which indicates how fast or slow a device is actually running based on PVT characteristics. As shown in Figure 2, this feedback loop is facilitated by a Hardware Performance Monitor (HPM) that enables closed loop voltage scaling. This forms the basis of closed-loop Adaptive Voltage Scaling (AVS), whereby voltage is adaptively scaled to achieve the optimal operating speed.

Figure 2: Closed-Loop Adaptive Voltage Scaling

A noisy battery voltage is supplied from the verification environment and controlled by the test parameters and supplied to the two low dropout regulators (LDOs):

  • mcu_ldo
  • dsp_ldo

The two LDOs independently regulate the supplied battery voltage to supply nominal voltages to independent power domains. There are 5 predefined nominal voltages for each LDO, and the outputs are independently scaled under control from the power controller to supply the regulated voltage to each individual power domain.

In my next blog, I will provide more information about simulating closed-loop voltage scaling on a target DUT.

Stay tuned for more...

Neyaz Khan



By marnaj singh gujral on January 24, 2011
Nice article.
But isn’t it true that the excessive power scaling (or even power gating) can cause noise problems particularly because of surge currents that might result because of multiple locations across the chip being driven with high supply voltage (or low supply voltage) or even being switched off/on at the same time.
Another priority Feedback loop can be initiated which checks the maximum rise and fall of system current requirement doesn’t exceed a certain limit?

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