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Technical Report

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Technical Report Number



Computing systems are now frequently composed of independently clocked subsystems that cooperate to perform the function desired for the whole. This type of architecture has many advantages and promises to be the standard for the foreseeable future. With the trend towards more and more gates per chip, the number of chips per subsystem gets smaller and smaller, and we can expect to soon see one or more subsystems per chip. This transition will require contributions from disciplines previously outside the field of chip design, and every issue will have to be carefully worked out beforehand because debugging chips of this complexity is a difficult and costly task.

This paper addresses one of those issues - the design of reliable synchronization logic for interfacing independently clocked subsystems. The design of this logic is not a normal exercise in clocked logic design because the operating environment is such that the response times of some flipflops will be unbounded, and an improper appreciation of this phenomenon can result in designs plagued by intermittent synchronization failures. The absence of a bound had been documented in the literature, but only from an experimental and analytic standpoint, and no generally applicable methodology for dealing with it has been suggested. As a result, it is not common knowledge among logic designers, and future systems are liable to suffer from it. The objective of this paper is to assist the logic designer by reviewing the basic phenomenon, characterizing it quantitatively, and presenting techniques for coping with it.


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