As process technologies shrink and gate densities increase, designers are integrating more complex functionality into their system-on-chips (SoCs) to maintain a competitive advantage. To bring designs on advanced process technologies to life, system architects select in-chip sensors and monitors that can provide a greater understanding of device fabrication, process variability and dynamically changing conditions in the field. The increasing variability of silicon in small geometries, combined with the non-deterministic nature of devices during operation, dictates that sensing of process, voltage and temperature (PVT) conditions within the chip is now an imperative.
In-chip monitors and PVT sensors play a key role in test, debug, and evaluation of SoCs developed for advanced process technologies. In addition, in-chip monitors can be used for model-to-hardware correlation of circuit design and timing tools. PVT sensors can track dynamic fluctuations in local power supply voltage and can directly measure silicon temperature to detect the hot and cold spots on the chip.
In-chip monitors and PVT sensors can be embedded as subsystems that can guide the decisions made by automatic test equipment during production, power management schemes during mission mode, and analytics throughout product lifecycles (Figure 1). Embedding in-chip monitors and PVT sensors can deliver significant performance and reliability benefits for planar and FinFET silicon technologies from 40nm to 3nm.