For over half a century, Integrated Circuits have been designed and developed (rather successfully) toward the goal of enhancing computing performance and efficiency. During this time, the relationship between circuit design and computing has remained largely one-directional: Careful, detailed circuit design is performed in the service of building computing systems. Notwithstanding a post-Moore and post-Dennard reality, the impressive strides made by digital computing thus far prompt an important question which re-examines the traditional circuit-computing relationship: Can runtime computing itself be used to enhance circuit and system capabilities? If so, under which conditions and to what extent?
In this talk, I will present recent efforts in my group that represent two different ways that computing can augment circuit capabilities to (1) overcome limitations inherent in circuit design; and (2) enable rapid, time-optimal control of integrated control systems. The effectiveness and limitations of both efforts are examined through a representative test-chip design. These efforts have yielded a robust True-Random Number Generators (TRNGs) demonstrating the lowest measured energy-per-bit (2.58pJ/bit), and an all-digital PLLs (ADPLLs) for system clocking applications with the fastest demonstrated cold-start and re-lock times (16 Refclk cycles, mean).