Sub-threshold operation has been proven to be very effective to reduce the power consumption of circuits when high performance is not required. Future low power systems on chip are likely to consist of many sub-systems operating at different frequencies and VDDs from super-threshold to sub-threshold region. Synchronizers are therefore needed to interface between these sub-systems. However, VDD scaling rapidly degrades synchronizers performance making them unsuitable for sub-threshold operation. For the first time, we analyze the synchronizer performance at ultra low voltages and propose to apply forward body bias to extend the operation of synchronizers to the sub-threshold region and to make them resilient to process variation. We show that applying full-VDD bias significantly increases the transconductance of the bi-stable in synchronizers without adding capacitance to the switching nodes. As a result all the circuit parameters (τ metastability time constant, Td normal propagation delay and Tw metastability window) determining synchronizer performance or mean time between failure (MTBF) can be improved by more than 80% (i.e. by five times) in the sub-threshold region. We also study the impact of process variation on the synchronizer performance in the sub-threshold region and conclude that with full-VDD bias the synchronizer MTBF can be improved from seconds to years for the worst case corner. Finally, we propose an implementation scheme of full-VDD body-biased synchronizer, which is able to work for a wide range of VDDs from sub-threshold region to nominal VDD with nearly zero overhead.
- Forward Body-bias