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Synchronization and Arbitration in Digital Systems by David J. Kinniment

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Preface

Most books on digital design only briefly touch on the design of synchronizers and arbiters, with maybe two or three pages in a 300 page book, or a chapter at most. This is because there was no real need for it in the early years of computer design. Processors were largely self-contained and used a single clock, so interfacing the processor to slow peripherals, or other processors was not seen as a major task. The fact that it is not simple emerged in the 1970s and 1980s when data rates between processors increased, and sometimes systems with more than one time zone were being designed. Despite frequent synchronization failures because of lack of understanding of the design principles at that time, synchronization still did not make it into the standard literature, and very little has been written since about how they should be designed. More recently processors are being designed with many more high-speed ports linked to networks, and the systems themselves are often made up of several core processors connected to an internal bus or network on chip. This means that processors operating on different time frames must communicate at high data rates, and when two or more processors request access to a common resource, there has to be some arbitration to decide which request to deal with first.

The need for synchronizers to ensure that data coming from one time frame is readable in another, and arbiters to ensure that a clean decision is taken has always been there, but the ...

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