Logic design partitioning for stacked power domains

Kristof Blutman, Hamed Fatemi, Ajay Kapoor, Andrew B. Kahng, Jiajia Li, José Pineda de Gyvez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Energy and battery lifetime constraints are critical challenges to IC designs. Stacked power-domain implementation, which connects voltage domains in series, can effectively improve power delivery efficiency and thus improve battery lifetime. However, such an approach requires balanced currents between different domains across multiple operating scenarios. Furthermore, level shifter insertion, along with placement constraints imposed by power domain regions, can incur significant power and area penalties. To the best of our knowledge, no existing work performs subblock-level partitioning optimization for stacked-domain designs. In this paper, we present an optimization framework for stacked-domain designs. Based on an initial placement solution, we apply a flow-based partitioning that is aware of multiple operating scenarios, cell placement, and timing-critical paths to partition cells into two power domains with balanced cross-domain current and minimized number of inserted level shifters. We further propose heuristics to define regions for each power domain so as to minimize placement perturbation, as well as a dynamic programming-based method to minimize the area cost of power domain generation. In an updated floor plan, we perform matching-based optimization to insert level shifters with minimized wirelength penalty. Overall, our method achieves an excellent current balance across stacked domains with less than 10% discrepancy, which results in up to more than 2× battery lifetime improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7999260
Pages (from-to)3045-3056
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Digital integrated circuits
  • low-power optimization
  • partitioning algorithms
  • physical design
  • power domains


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