First Advisor

Xiaoyu Song

Date of Publication

Winter 1-17-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering




Data flow computing, Electrical engineering, Integrated circuits, Asynchronous circuits



Physical Description

1 online resource (xiv, 405 pages)


Many modern computer systems are distributed over space. Well-known examples are the Internet of Things and IBM's TrueNorth for deep learning applications. At the Asynchronous Research Center (ARC) at Portland State University we build distributed hardware systems using self-timed computation and delay-insensitive communication. Where appropriate, self-timed hardware operations can reduce average and peak power, energy, latency, and electromagnetic interference. Alternatively, self-timed operations can increase throughput, tolerance to delay variations, scalability, and manufacturability.

The design of complex hardware systems requires design automation and support for test, debug, and product characterization.

This thesis focuses on design compilation and test support for dataflow applications. Both parts are necessary to go from self-timed circuits to large-scale hardware systems.

As part of the research in design compilation, the ARCwelder compiler designed by Willem Mallon (previously with NXP and Philips Handshake Solutions) was extended.

The key to testing distributed systems, including self-timed systems, is to identify the actions in the systems. In distributed systems there is no such thing as a global action. To test, debug, characterize, and even initialize distributed systems, it is necessary to control the local actions. The designs developed at the ARC separate the actions from the states ab initio.

As part of the research in test and debug, a special circuit to control actions, called MrGO, was implemented. A scan and JTAG test interface was also implemented. The test implementations have been built into two silicon test experiments, called Weaver and Anvil, and were used successfully for testing, debug, and performance characterizations.


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