Tools Needed for Micro-Arch Exploration in Low Power Design

Overcoming Challenges in Power Exploration

We have emphasized the importance of power optimizations and explored potent micro-architectural techniques for reducing power consumption. However, despite the availability of such techniques, many designers hesitate to deploy them due to challenges in power exploration.

Identifying Wasted Power

Traditional power estimation methods often fail to pinpoint wasted power. Simply knowing that a design consumes high power isn't enough; designers need precise information about where power is being wasted. For example, redundant activity, such as unnecessary toggling on clocks, can go unnoticed in standard power analyses.

Challenges in Power Exploration Flow

The current power exploration flow poses significant hurdles for designers. Implementing design changes, verifying correctness, and simulating the revised design involve multiple iterations and teams, leading to lengthy turnaround times. For each design change, designers must navigate through a complex process involving different tools and teams, which can take days or even weeks.

A New Approach to Power Exploration

To address these challenges, designers need assistance on two fronts: precise knowledge of applicable power-saving techniques and a rapid method for estimating power savings. Ideally, designers should have access to a dashboard view showcasing potential power savings across clock, memory, and logic components of the design.

Moreover, designers should be empowered to explore the power impact of their own changes incrementally. The current practice of redoing the entire power estimation for each change is impractical and time-consuming. An ideal exploration flow would allow designers to make incremental changes, simulate and synthesize only the impacted portions of the design, and estimate power savings efficiently.


Traditional methods of power exploration are no longer sufficient to maximize power savings in designs. They discourage designers from exploring multiple power-saving options due to lengthy turnaround times and complexity. A new approach is needed, one that not only identifies where power is being wasted but also enables rapid evaluation of power impact for any design change, without the need for extensive tool involvement or team coordination.

In conclusion, the future of power exploration lies in streamlining processes and empowering designers with the tools and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about power optimization.

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