12  May
Green Silicon

I recently attended the annual TSMC Technology Symposium in San Jose, at which TSMC’s Vice President of Design and Technology Platforms, Dr. Fu-Chieh Hsu, presented a talk on, “The Green Design Concept.? Dr. Hsu proceeded to describe the world’s current power needs – a staggering 300 trillion Watt-hours/day – and how the silicon-based devices in the computing, communications and consumer markets, while only representing a small fraction of that number, still account for over 1 trillion Watt-hours/day, a number that is rapidly growing.

Dr. Hsu continued by explaining how both the semiconductor manufacturing and design communities can help minimize the power needs of silicon-based equipment. On the silicon foundry side, technology and production quality along with environmentally friendly production techniques all contribute to minimizing energy use during chip production. For their part, chip designer can develop energy-efficient designs in areas such as fuel-efficient vehicles, smart office management systems, and intelligent lighting and appliances in the home. There is nothing really new with these ideas. However, designers can also do a lot to minimize “silicon waste? through techniques such as minimizing on-chip logic, design margins, timing slack, and circuit area, and maximizing the use of silicon-proven IP. Naturally, these techniques require good design tools and accurate models from and close cooperation with EDA vendors, along with partnerships with semiconductor foundries, to develop “just right? designs instead of “over designs.? It also means that chip designers have to accept a new way of designing chips, minimizing the over-design techniques that they feel are required to provide the safety margins necessary for acceptable yields. The benefit to the designer is a smaller, more efficiently designed chip and higher profit margin.

The concept of “Green Silicon? is a good one and a concept that we can all embrace. Yes, it will take significant effort on everyone’s part, but isn’t the end result – better silicon power efficiency and more profit on the bottom line – worth it? As Dr. Hsu stated at the closing of his presentation, “Green Designs lead to Greenbacks.?

Posted by admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: May 12, 2008, 3:25 pm | 1 Comment »