Technical report about survival instincts in electronic systems

I wrote this article as a chapter to Peter Cheung’s 60th birthday Festschrift.

Here is the abstract:

The writing of this paper has been inspired by the motivating ideas of
incorporating self-awareness into systems that have been studied by
Prof Cheung in connection to dealing with variability and ageing in
nano-scale electronics. We attempt here to exploit the opportunities for
making systems self-aware, and taking it further, see them in a
biological perspective of survival under harsh operating conditions.
Survivability is developed here in the context of the availability of
energy and power, where the notion of power-modulation will navigate
us towards the incorporation into system design of the mechanisms
analogous to instincts in human brain. These mechanisms are
considered here through a set of novel techniques for reference-free
sensing and elastic memory for data retention. This is only a beginning
in the exploration of system design for survival, and many other
developments such as design of self-aware communication fabric are
further on the way.

Asynchronous Static RAM demo video

It is now possible to see the video of our demo of the Self-timed SRAM, as it works (Write and Read) under a wide range of power supply conditions:

(1) stable levels of Vdd in the range from 1.2V down to 0.4V; and

(2) with a run-time varying supply from our Capacitor-Bank power supply (second box in the setup).


towards survival instincts in computing systems

I have recently talked about developing survival instincts in computing systems. This opens up an interesting paradigm for designing autonomous systems for applications that require them to be on earth, underwater and in space. The conditions for operation of such systems are often harsh, unpredictable and it seems most natural to look for analogies to envisage the ways of their design in the nature, in animals and humans, particularly looking at the nervous systems. Another important pathway to such systems would be to look how energy affects their behaviour and how power levels activate various layers of instinct mechanisms …

These were the ideas that I discussed in my keynote talk at NoCArc’12 in Vancouver  (

Here are the slides and video