Bubble Razor: Eliminating Timing Margins in an ARM Cortex-M3 Processor in 45 nm CMOS Using Architecturally Independent Error Detection and Correction


We propose Bubble Razor, an architecturally independent approach to timing error detection and correction that avoids hold-time issues and enables large timing speculation windows. A local stalling technique that can be automatically inserted into any design allows the system to scale to larger processors. We implemented Bubble Razor on an ARM Cortex-M3 microprocessor in 45 nm CMOS without detailed knowledge of its internal architecture to demonstrate the technique’s automated capability. The flip-flop based design was converted to two-phase latch timing using commercial retiming tools; Bubble Razor was then inserted using automatic scripts. This system marks the first published implementation of a Razor-style scheme on a complete, commercial processor. It provides an energy efficiency improvement of 60% or a throughput gain of up to 100% compared to operating with worst case timing margins.

IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits