, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 343-358
Date: 11 Sep 2006

Platform-based mixed signal design: Optimizing a high-performance pipelined ADC

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We apply Platform-Based Design (PBD) to the power optimization of a 14 bit, 80 MS/s pipelined Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) in a mixed signal formulation. A platform is a library of components and interconnects, each characterized with a set of behavioral, performance and composition models, that is used to raise the level of abstraction to enable system-level design. PBD is a meet-in-the-middle methodology that consists of two phases. The bottom-up phase generates a set of platform libraries that are exploited in the system hierarchy. The top-down phase allows exploring feasible solutions within the platform libraries and selecting the optimum implementation. To evaluate the cost of each implementation, the behavioral models available through platform abstraction are used both for digital and analog components. We provide an example of the use of the methodology and its features for analog circuits by modeling two amplifiers with different topologies as analog components, showing details of the analog characterization process. Then, we create a mixed signal platform library as a combination of an analog and a digital platform (bottom-up phase). The top-down phase performs optimization across the analog/digital boundary to minimize power consumption constrained to given noise and linearity requirements. Simulation results show that interesting power saving can be achieved, as much as 64% compared with an original hand-optimized ADC.

Pierluigi Nuzzo received the Laurea degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 2003, and the Diploma from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, in 2004, both with honors. Since 2004, he has been with the Department of Information Engineering, University of Pisa, where he is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and computer science.
During summer 2002 he was with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, IL as a student intern working on ASIC testing. From August 2004 to February 2005 he was with IMEC, Leuven, Belgium, as a visiting scholar, working on low power A/D converter design for ultra-wide band applications. His research interests include high speed, low power analog and mixed-signal circuits in CMOS technology, digital calibration of ADCs, system level mixed-signal design and design methodologies.
Mr. Nuzzo received first place in the operational category and best overall submission in the 2006 DAC/ISSCC student design competition.
Fernando De Bernardinis received the Laurea degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1996 and the M.S. degree and Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001 and 2005, respectively.
Between 1992 and 1996 he was at the Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa. From 1997 to 1998 he collaborated with the PARADES research center in Rome. During the summers 1999 and 2000 he was at the ST Berkeley labs, working on wireless embedded system design. From 2000 to 2006 he was assistant professor at the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Pisa, Italy. His research interests include mixed-signal design, analog CAD, system level analog design and design methodologies.
In 2006 he has joined Marvell Semiconductors, Pavia, Italy, where he works on mixed-signal and RF system design.
Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli holds the Edgar L. and Harold H. Buttner Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley. He has been on the Faculty since 1976. He obtained an electrical engineering and computer science degree (“Dottore in Ingegneria”) summa cum laude from the Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy in 1971. In 1980–1981, he spent a year as a Visiting Scientist at the Mathematical Sciences Department of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. In 1987, he was Visiting Professor at MIT. He has held a number of visiting professor positions at Italian Universities, including Politecnico di Torino, Universita’ di Roma La Sapienza, Universita’ di Roma Tor Vergata, Universita’ di Pavia, Universita’ di Pisa, Scuola Sant’Anna.
He was a co-founder of Cadence and Synopsys, the two leading companies in the area of Electronic Design Automation. He is the Chief Technology Adviser of Cadence. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Cadence and the Chair of the Technology Committee, UPEK, a company he helped spinning off from ST Microelectronics, where he is the Chair of its Nominating and Governance Committee and a member of the Audit Committee, Sonics, where he serves as the Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee, Gradient, where he is a member of the Compensation committee, Accent, an ST Microelectronics-Cadence joint venture he helped founding, and Value Partners. He is the Technology Advisor to the President of the Abruzzo Region. He is a member of the HP Strategic Technology Advisory Board, of the Science and Technology Advisory Board of General Motors and of the Scientific Council of the Tronchetti Provera foundation. He consulted for many companies including Bell Labs, IBM, Intel, United Technology, COMAU, Magneti Marelli, Pirelli, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Fujitsu, Kawasaki Steel, Sony, ST and Hitachi. He was an advisor to the Singapore Government for microelectronics and new ventures. He has consulted as Technology Partner for Greylock Ventures and for Vertex Investment. He served as witness in US Congressional investigations on competitiveness of the US economy. He is the founder and Scientific Director of the Project on Advanced Research on Architectures and Design of Electronic Systems (PARADES), a European Group of Economic Interest supported by Cadence, Magneti-Marelli and ST Microelectronics. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Lester Center for Innovation of the Haas School of Business and of the Center for Western European Studies and a member of the Berkeley Roundtable of the International Economy (BRIE). He is a member of the High-Level Group and of the Steering Committee of the EU Artemis Technology Platform.
In 1981, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award of the University of California. He received the worldwide 1995 Graduate Teaching Award of the IEEE (a Technical Field award for “inspirational teaching of graduate students”). In 2002, he was the recipient of the Aristotle Award of the Semiconductor Research Corporation. He has received numerous research awards including the Guillemin-Cauer Award (1982–1983), the Darlington Award (1987–1988) of the IEEE for the best paper bridging theory and applications, and two awards for the best paper published in the Transactions on CAS and CAD, three best paper awards and one best presentation awards at the Design Automation Conference. In 2001, he was given the prestigious Kaufman Award of the Electronic Design Automation Council for pioneering contributions to EDA.
He is an author of over 700 papers and 15 books in the area of design tools and methodologies, large-scale systems, embedded controllers, hybrid systems and innovation.
Dr. Sangiovanni-Vincentelli has been a Fellow of the IEEE since 1982 and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor bestowed upon a US engineer, since 1998.