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Proceedings Paper

GaAs VLSI technology and circuit elements for DSP
Author(s): James M. Mikkelson
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Paper Abstract

Recent progress in digital GaAs circuit performance and complexity is presented to demonstrate the current capabilities of GaAs components. High density GaAs process technology and circuit design techniques are described and critical issues for achieving favorable complexity speed power and cost tradeoffs are reviewed. Some DSP building blocks are described to provide examples of what types of DSP systems could be implemented with present GaAs technology. DIGITAL GaAs CIRCUIT CAPABILITIES In the past few years the capabilities of digital GaAs circuits have dramatically increased to the VLSI level. Major gains in circuit complexity and power-delay products have been achieved by the use of silicon-like process technologies and simple circuit topologies. The very high speed and low power consumption of digital GaAs VLSI circuits have made GaAs a desirable alternative to high performance silicon in hardware intensive high speed system applications. An example of the performance and integration complexity available with GaAs VLSI circuits is the 64x64 crosspoint switch shown in figure 1. This switch which is the most complex GaAs circuit currently available is designed on a 30 gate GaAs gate array. It operates at 200 MHz and dissipates only 8 watts of power. The reasons for increasing the level of integration of GaAs circuits are similar to the reasons for the continued increase of silicon circuit complexity. The market factors driving GaAs VLSI are system design methodology system cost power and reliability. System designers are hesitant or unwilling to go backwards to previous design techniques and lower levels of integration. A more highly integrated system in a lower performance technology can often approach the performance of a system in a higher performance technology at a lower level of integration. Higher levels of integration also lower the system component count which reduces the system cost size and power consumption while improving the system reliability. For large gate count circuits the power per gate must be minimized to prevent reliability and cooling problems. The technical factors which favor increasing GaAs circuit complexity are primarily related to reducing the speed and power penalties incurred when crossing chip boundaries. Because the internal GaAs chip logic levels are not compatible with standard silicon I/O levels input receivers and output drivers are needed to convert levels. These I/O circuits add significant delay to logic paths consume large amounts of power and use an appreciable portion of the die area. The effects of these I/O penalties can be reduced by increasing the ratio of core logic to I/O on a chip. DSP operations which have a large number of logic stages between the input and the output are ideal candidates to take advantage of the performance of GaAs digital circuits. Figure 2 is a schematic representation of the I/O penalties encountered when converting from ECL levels to GaAs

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 October 1990
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1291, Optical and Digital Gallium Arsenide Technologies for Signal Processing Applications, (1 October 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.21010
Show Author Affiliations
James M. Mikkelson, Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1291:
Optical and Digital Gallium Arsenide Technologies for Signal Processing Applications
Mark P. Bendett; Daniel H. Butler Jr.; Arati Prabhakar; Andrew C. Yang, Editor(s)

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