Intel® Quartus® Prime Pro Edition User Guide: Power Analysis and Optimization

ID 683174
Date 10/04/2021
Public

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2.4.2. Pipelining and Retiming

Glitches are unnecessary and unpredictable temporary logic switches at the output of combinational logic. Designs with glitches consume more power, because of faster switching activity. A glitch usually occurs when there is a mismatch in input signal timing, leading to unequal propagation delay.

For example, consider a 2-input XOR gate where one input changes from 1 to 0, and moments later the other input changes from 0 to 1. For a short time, both inputs become 1 (high), resulting in 0 (low) at the output of the XOR gate. Then, when the second input transition takes place, the XOR gate output becomes 1 (high). Therefore, before the output becomes stable, the input delay produces a glitch in the output.

Figure 31. XOR Gate Showing Glitch at the Output

A glitch can propagate to subsequent logic and create unnecessary switching activity, increasing power consumption. Circuits with many XOR functions, such as arithmetic circuits or cyclic redundancy check (CRC) circuits, tend to have many glitches if there are several levels of combinational logic between registers.

Registers stop glitches from propagating through combinational paths. Pipelining is a technique that breaks combinational paths by inserting registers. By reducing logic-level numbers between registers, pipelining can result in higher clock speed operations. However, pipelining increases the latency of a circuit in terms of the number of clock cycles to a first result.

The following figure shows how pipelining breaks a long combinational path.

Figure 32. Pipelining Example

This reduction in switching activity lowers power dissipation in combinational logic. However, for designs with few glitches, pipelining can increase power consumption by adding unnecessary registers. Pipelining can also increase resource utilization.

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