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Clock mesh makes circuits more powerful

Leti, a CEA Tech institute, implemented clock-mesh technology on a high-performance computing (HPC) circuit for an industrial R&D partner.

Published on 17 February 2017

To make a computer more powerful, you have to increase the frequency of its internal clock, a vital component that orchestrates the operation of circuits and times exchanges between components. The faster the exchanges, the more powerful the computer. With the traditional tree-mesh clock-signal distribution architectures, two distant components do not receive the clock signal at the same time. This means that a safety margin must be factored in, limiting the ability to increase clock frequency.

Clock-mesh architecture makes signal distribution more uniform, reducing this time delay. The clock-mesh technology Leti implemented on a multicore circuit reduced the differences in signal arrival times at two distant points by 50%.

The energy-hungry architecture can bring clock frequency to levels in excess of 2 GHz. It is suitable for HPC, an application where performance takes priority over energy efficiency. Leti is also working on more energy-efficient architectures like small distributed systems.

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