A few iconoclasts are building computer chips that dispense with the traditional clock. But they face big barriers in bringing their idea into the mainstream. Ponytailed and animated, the founder and chief technical officer of Theseus Logic fills the whiteboard with sweeping illustrative examples, kneeling down to use every bit of available writing space. He is in his socks. His low desk is covered by a formless mass of memos and transcripts and other paper stuff, all mounding slightly toward the middle.

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Published on Apr 19, Abstract Every action of the computer takes place in tiny steps, each a billionth of a second long. A simple transfer of data may take only one step; complex calculations may take many steps. The use of a central clock also creates problems.

As speeds have increased, distributing the timing signals has become more and more difficult. Present-day transistors can process data so quickly that they can accomplish several steps in the time that it takes a wire to carry a signal from one side of the chip to the other.

Keeping the rhythm identical in all parts of a large chip requires careful design and a great deal of electrical power. Clockless approach, which uses a technique known as asynchronous logic, differs from conventional computer circuit design in that the switching on and off of digital circuits is controlled individually by specific pieces of data rather than by a tyrannical clock that forces all of the millions of the circuits on a chip to march in unison.

It overcomes all the disadvantages of a clocked circuit such as slow speed, high power consumption, high electromagnetic noise etc. For these reasons the clockless technology is considered as the technology which is going to drive majority of electronic chips in the coming years.

Concept of Clocks The clock is a tiny crystal oscillator that resides in the heart of every microprocessor chip. The clock is what which sets the basic rhythm used throughout the machine. The clock orchestrates the synchronous dance of electrons that course through the hundreds of millions of wires and transistors of a modern computer. Conventional chips synchronous operate under the control of a central clock, which samples data in the registers at precisely timed intervals.

Computer chips of today are synchronous: they contain a main clock which controls the timing of the entire chips. One advantage of a clock is that, the clock signals to the devices of the chip when to input or output. This functionality of the synchronous design makes designing the chip much easier.

There are problems that go along with the clock, however. Clock speeds are now in the gigahertz range and there is not much room for speedup before physical realities start to complicate things. With a gigahertz clock powering a chip, signals barely have enough time to make it across the chip before the next clock tick. At this point, speedup up the clock frequency could become disastrous. This is when a chip that is not constricted by clock speeds could become very valuable Next More Seminar Topics: Are you interested in this topic.

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Arataur But asynchronous designers clovkless a chicken-and-egg problem: But they face big barriers in bringing their idea into the mainstream. Asynchronous is more like a milling crowd. These will take weeks to resolve and a couple of wafer sets. According to Jorgenson, clockless chips are particularly energy-efficient clocklesss running video, audio, and other streaming applications—data-intensive programs that frequently cause synchronous processors to use considerable power. Clockless Computing — Idea: Theseus designed the device for use in battery-powered or signal-processing applications. But that means being far more meticulous about the physical design than synchronous designers have been trained to be.


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