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 spurs an important question that 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 an overview of recent efforts in my group as we examine the promising role of computing in augmenting circuit capabilities to (1) overcome limitations inherent in circuit design; (2) enable rapid, time-optimal control of integrated control systems; and (3) to perform low-complexity runtime system optimization. Each of these goals is examined a through a representative test-chip design. Applications include robust True-Random Number Generators (TRNGs) demonstrating the lowest measured energy-per-bit (2.58pJ/bit), All-digital PLLs (ADPLLs) for system clocking applications with the fastest demonstrated cold-start and re-lock times (16 Refclk cycles, mean), and an autonomous all-digital minimum energy-point (MEP) tracking system for a sub-threshold microprocessor.