Asynchronous drive from Analog

Run smarter – Live longer!

Breathe smarter – Live longer!

Tick smarter – Live longer!

I could continue listing these slogans for designing better electronics for the era of trillions of devices and peta, exa and zetta bits of information produced on our small planet.

Ultimately it is about how good we are in TIMING our ingestion and processing of information. TIMING has been and will always be a key design factor which will determine other factors such as performance, accuracy, energy efficiency of the system and even productivity of design processes.

As computing spreads into periphery, i.e. it goes into ordinary objects and fills the forms of these objects like water fills the shape of the cup, it would be only natural to think that computing at the peri or edge should be more determined by the nature of the environment rather than rules of computer design dominated the by-going era of compute-centrism. Computing for ages has been quite selfish and tyranic. Its agenda has been set by scaling the size of semiconductor devices and growing complexity of digital part. This scaling process had two important features. One was increasing speed, power consumption which has led to an ongoing growth in data server capacity. The other feature was the only way to manage complexity of the digital circuitry was to use clock in design to avoid potential racing conditions in circuits. As computing reaches the peri it does not need to become as complex and clocky as those compute-centric digital mosters. Computing has to be much more environment friendly. It has to be amenable to the conditions and needs of the environment – otherwise it simply won’t survive!

But the TIMING factor will remain! What will then drive this factor? It won’t certainly only be the scaling of devices and drive for higher throughput by means of clock – why? for example, because we will not be able to provide enough power for that high throughput – there isn’t enough lithium on the planet to make so many batteries. Nor we have enough engineers or technicians to maintain replacing those batteries. But on other hand we don’t need clock to run the digital parts of those peri devices because they will not be that complex. So, where will TIMING come from? One of natural ways of timing these devices is to extract TIMING directly from the environment, and to be precise from the ENERGY flows in the environment.

We have always used a power supply wire in our electronic circuits. Yes, but we have always used it as an always-ON servant, who had to be there to give us 5 Volts or 3 Volts, or more recently 1 Volt or even less (the so-called sub-threshold operation) like 0.4 Volts. That wire or signal has never been much of a signal carrying information value. Why? Well because such information value was always in other signals which would give us either data bits or clock ticks. Today is time to reconsider this traditional thinking and widen our horizon by looking at the power supply signal as a useful information source. Asynchronous or self-timed circuits are fundamentally much more cognizant of the energy flow. Such circuits naturally tune their tick boxes to the power levels and run/breath/tick smarter!

At Newcastle we have been placing asynchronous circuits at the edge with the environment into analog electronics. In particular, it has been power regulation circuits, A-to-D converters and various sensors (voltage, capacitance, …). This way allows significantly reduce the latencies and response times to important events in the analog, reduce sizes of passives (caps and inductors), but perhaps most importantly, thanks to our asynchronous design tools under Workcraft (http://workcraft.org) we have made asynchronous design much more productive. Industrial engineers in the analog domain are falling in love with our tools.

More information can be found here:

http://async.org.uk

https://www.ncl.ac.uk/engineering/research/eee/microsystems/

 

On the Role of Mathematics for humanity in building physical reality

Mathematics is a (or, probably, the only!) language that enables ideas about physics be communicated between people across different generations and across different cultures.

Inevitably, it ”suffers” from approximation and abstraction compared to physical reality. A bit like an impressionist painting reflects the real picture.

The question is what and how much is sacrificed here.

One test of whether the sacrifice is acceptable or not is in the way how people, while using mathematics, can build physical objects such as airplanes, cars, bridges, radios, computers etc. If they can and at a reasonable cost, then the language is adequate to the purpose.

For example, it seems that the mathematical language of Heaviside’s operational calculus is sufficient for the purposes of designing and analysing electrical circuits of good quality and in an acceptable time.

Another example, the language of Boolean algebra is sufficient to design logic circuits if we clock them safely so that they don’t produce any hazards. If, however we don’t clock them safely, we need other ways to describe causal relationships between events, such as Signal Transition Graphs.

 

 

My PhD Thesis (1982) – scanned copy in pdf

I have finally managed to scan my PhD thesis “Design and Implementation of Asynchronous Communication Protocols in Systems Interfaces” in Russian (“Проектирование и реализация протоколов асинхронного обмена информацией в межмодульном интерфейсе”)

The thesis is spread between several files (total – 255 pages):

Title, Contents and Introduction:

Chapter 1 (General characterization of the methods of formal synthesis and analysis of communication protocols): 

Chapter 2 (Formalization of the behaviour of interacting objects and communication protocols):

Chapter 3 (Interpretation of asynchronous processes and use of interpreted models for the description and analysis of protocols):

Chapter 4 (Organization of aperiodic interface of intermodular communication):

Conclusion and References:

Appendinces (1-5):

(1) Example of context procedure

(2) Example of controlled protocol

(3) Application of Petri nets to specification of asynchronous discrete structures

(4) Information transfer on three-state lines

(5) Analysis and implementation of the TRIMOSBUS interface

Exploitation confirmation letter from Ufa plant

 

Talk about Asynchronous Design for IoT at the ALIOT Workshop

An ErasmusPlus-funded project ALIOT “Internet of Things: Emerging Curriculum for Industry and Human Applications” http://aliot.eu.org held its workshop in Newcastle on 9-11th July 2018.

I gave an invited talk on “Asynchronous Design for IoT” where I also showed retrospectively some history of developments in the field of asynchronous system design where I have been involved for nearly 40 years, first in St Petersburg and then in Newcastle.

The slides of my talk can be found here: https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/alex.yakovlev/home.formal/talks/Asynchronous%20Design%20for%20IoT%20-AlexY%20-%20ALIOT2018.pdf

 

My keynote at Norwegian Nanoelectronics Network Workshop – 13 June 2018

I attended a high stimulating networking workshop in Norway – called Nano-Network

http://www.nano-network.net/workshop/

It was held in an idyllic place on the island called Tjome – south of Oslo.

Lots of excellent talks. Here is the programme:

http://www.nano-network.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Workshop-programme-2018.pdf

and I gave my invited talk on “Bridging Asynchronous Circuits and Analog-Mixed Signal Design”. Here are the slides:

https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/alex.yakovlev/home.formal/talks/Nano-Micro-2018-Yakovlev-short-no-animation.pdf

The whole event was highly stimulating, with exciting social programme. Challenging adventure towards Verdens Ende (World’s End) with lots of tricky questions and tests on the way. Our team did well … but we weren’t the winners 🙁

 

Bridging Async and Analog at ASYNC 2018 and FAC 2018 in Vienna

I attended ASYNC 2018 and FAC 2018 in Vienna in May. It was the first time these two event were collocated back to back, with FAC (Frontiers of Analog CAD) to follow ASYNC.

See http://www.async2018.wien/

I gave an invited ‘bridging’ keynote “Async-Analog: Happy Cross-talking?”.

Here are the slides in pdf:

https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/alex.yakovlev/home.formal/talks/ASYNC18-FAC18-keynote-AY-last.pdf

 

 

 

On Relationship between X and Y chromosome evolution and PID control

First of all, I would like you to read my previous post on the graphical interpretation of the mechanisms of evolution of X and Y chromosomes.

These mechanisms clearly demonstrate the greater changeability of the X pool (in females) than the Y pool  (present only in males) – simply due to the fact that X chromosomes in females merge and branch (called fan in and fan out).

The next, in my opinion, interesting observation is drawn from the notions of mathematical analysis and dynamical systems theory. Here we have ideas of proportionality, integration, differentiation, on one hand, and notions of combinationality and sequentiality on the other.

If we look at the way how X-chromosomes evolve with fan-in mergers, we clearly see the features akin to proportionality and differentiality. The outgoing X pools are sensitive to the incoming X pools and their combinations. Any mixing node in this graph shows high sensitivity to inputs.

Contrary to that, the way of evolution of Y-chromosomes with NO fan-in contributions, clearly shows the elements of integration and sequentiality, or inertia, i.e. the preservation of the long term features.

So, the conclusions that can be drawn from this analysis are:

  1. Males tend to bring the integral or sequential (cf. sequential circuits in digital systems – with longer term memory) aspect to the overall process of evolution
  2. Females tend to bring the proportional/differential or combinatorial (cf. combinational circuits – with shorter term memory)
  3. The presence of both male and female genetics are essential for stability of the evolution and survival of the kind, much like the PID feedback control helps stability of dynamical systems, and much like the combination of combination and sequential circuits allow computer systems to operate according to their programs.

Again, I would be grateful for any comments and observations!

PS. By looking at the way how our society is now governed (cf. female or male presidents and prime ministers), you might think whether we are subject to differentiality/combinatorics or integrality/sequentiality and hence whether we are stable as a dynamical system or systems (in different countries).

Happy Days!

 

 

 

 

 

Electromagnetic Compatibility event (EMC-COMPO’17) in St. Petersburg

A very interesting workshop was held in my Alma Mater (LETI – Electrotechnical Universrity) in Saint Petersburg, Russia on 4-8 July 2017.

https://emccompo2017.eltech.ru

The workshop contained lots of interesting presentations – largely from industry and largely on modelling and empirical measurements of the EM interference in microsystems and ICs. Basically, the problem of reuse and block replacement is huge due to the unpredictability of the EM effects between components on PCB and on chip.

Here are the presentations:

https://emccompo2017.eltech.ru/results/presentations

Milos Krstic (from IHP) and I gave a keynote talk, which consisted of two parts:

(1) Digital Systems Clocking with and without clock: a historical retrospective (emphasizing the role of researchers from LETI – mostly Victor Varshavsky’s group where I used to work in the 1980s)

http://www.eltech.ru/assets/files/en/emccompo-2017/presentations/25-Digital-Systems-Clocking-with-and-without-clock.pdf

(2) Main technical contribution: Reducing Switching Noise Effects by Advanced Clock Management: M. Krstic, X. Fan, M. Babic, E. Grass, T. Bjerregaard, A. Yakovlev

http://www.eltech.ru/assets/files/en/emccompo-2017/presentations/03-Reducing-Switching-Noise-Effects.pdf

 

Tutorial on EDA for Asynchronous Control for Analogue-Mixed-Signal

We gave a 3 hour tutorial at IEEE Int Conference on Electronics Circuits and Systems (ICECS’16) in Monaco on the 11th December 2016.

http://icecs.isep.fr/tutorial.html#tutorial7

The handout can be downloaded from here:

https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/alex.yakovlev/home.formal/talks/ICECS2016-Yakovlev-tutorial-handouts.pdf

We also organised a special session on Oscillator Based Computing:

http://www.epapers.org/icecs2016/ESR/session_view.php?session_id=9

where one of our papers was presented:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311667154_Stacking_Voltage-Controlled_Oscillators_Analysis_and_Application