CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Clocking is one of the single most important decisions facing the designer of a digital system. Unfortunately much too often it has been taken lightly at the beginning of a design and that viewpoint has proven to be very costly in the long run (Wagner 1988). Thus, it is not pretentious to dedicate an entire book to this subject. However, this book is limited to the even narrower issue of clocked storage elements (CSE), widely known as flip-flops and latches. The issues dealing with clock generation, frequency stability and control, and clock distribution are too numerous to be discussed in depth in this book and so they are covered only briefly. The interested reader is referred to the other books dealing with those issues, such as the one by Friedman (1995).

The importance of clocking has become even more emphasized, as the clock speed is rising rapidly, doubling every three years, as seen in Fig. 1.1. However, the clock uncertainties have not been scaling proportionally with the frequency increase, and an increasingly large portion of the clock cycle has been spent on the clocking overhead. The ability to absorb clock skew or to make the clocked storage element faster is reflected directly in the enhanced performance, since the performance is directly proportional to the clock frequency of a given system. Such performance improvements are very difficult to obtain using traditional techniques on the architecture or microarchitecture levels. The difficulties ...

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