An ultra-low-power MicroController Unit System-on-Chip (MCU SOC) is described with integrated DC to DC power management and Adaptive Dynamic Voltage Control (ADVC) mechanism. The SOC, designed and fabricated in a 40 nm ULP standard CMOS technology, includes the complete Synopsys ARC EM5D core MCU, featuring a full set of DSP instructions and minimizing energy consumption at a wide range of frequencies: 312 K–80 MHz. A number of unique low voltage digital libraries, comprising of approximately 300 logic cells and sequential elements, were used for the MCU SOC design. On-die silicon sensors were utilized to continuously change the operating voltage to optimize power/performance for a given frequency and environmental conditions, and also to resolve yield and life time problems, while operating at low voltages. A First Fail (FFail) mechanism, which can be digitally and linearly controlled with up to 8 bits, detects the failing SOC voltage at a given frequency. The core operates between 0.45–1.1 V volts with a direct battery connection for an input voltage of 1.6–3.6 V. Measurement results show that the peak energy efficiency is 18μW/MHz. A comparison to state-of-the-art commercial SOCs is presented, showing a 3–5× improved current/DMIPS (Dhrystone Million Instructions per second) compared to the next best chip.
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