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512 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO.

3, MARCH 2013
IR-Drop in On-Chip Power Distribution Networks
of ICs With Nonuniform Power Consumption
Josep Rius, Member, IEEE
AbstractA compact IR-drop model for on-chip power
distribution networks in array and wire-bonded ICs is analyzed.
Chip dimensions, size, and location of the supply pads, metal
coverage, piecewise distribution of IC consumption, and the
resistance between the pads and the power supply are considered
to obtain closed-form expressions for the IR-drop. The IR-drop
model is validated by comparing its results with electrical
simulations. The obtained error is in the range of 1%.
Index TermsIC modeling, IR-drop, power distribution
networks (PDNs), power supply noise (PSN).
I. INTRODUCTION
T
O ENSURE a good supply voltage throughout the IC, and
for the high-consumption and high-density ICs available
in current technologies, the on-chip power distribution network
(PDN) is usually organized as a grid of wide parallel wires
in the two or more upper metal layers covering the IC
surface. Connection to the package is currently made by two
approaches: the so-called peripheral bonding, in which the
supply pads are distributed along the sides of the IC, and
array bonding, where the supply pads are distributed in an
array over the whole IC surface, in a ip-chip package.
The PDN behaves as a conductive mesh with resistive,
inductive, and capacitive properties. As a consequence, the
electric current spikes produced during the circuit activity are
transformed into voltage bounces at the supply terminals of the
internal circuits. This power supply noise (PSN) has several
undesirable effects on the performance and reliability of ICs
[1]. A good PDN design is therefore necessary to reduce the
PSN below a specied value. The PSN can be roughly divided
into static and dynamic. Static PSN, or IR-drop, is the voltage
drop caused by the DC supply current in the PDN resistances,
whereas dynamic PSN is due to transients exciting the PDN
inductances and capacitances. The analysis of the IR-drop is
important [2], [3], [1] because it allows addressing the most
important issues in PDN design, that is, width and pitch of
the PDN wires [4][8], [9] and size, number, and location of
pads [10], [11], [4], [5], [12][13]. When a dynamic analysis
of the PSN is required, there are additional important issues
to solve, such as the impact of on-chip PDN inductance [14],
[15] and the amount and distribution of on-chip decoupling
capacitance [15], [1].
Manuscript received June 6, 2011; revised November 9, 2011; accepted
February 16, 2012. Date of publication March 20, 2012; date of current version
February 20, 2013.
The author is with the Department of Electronic Engineering,
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona 08028, Spain (e-mail:
josep.rius@upc.edu).
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TVLSI.2012.2188918
The design of a good, reliable on-chip PDN of a digital IC
is a very complex task because designers cannot anticipate all
the details of the design. The PSN depends on the location,
size, and activity of the circuit blocks. Therefore, in order to
check that the PSN is below the specied value, it is necessary
to simulate the complete circuit, which is clearly unfeasible
for large ICs. The help of specic CAD tools alleviates this
problem. However, due to the simulation time, CAD tools are
primarily intended for use in postlayout verication, after the
design is complete. A failure in the design involves a costly
rework of the PDN. This leads to overdimensioning, resulting
in the sacrice of valuable routing resources. For this reason,
the use of prelayout tools in the early stages of the PDN
design, which give approximate results for the PSN expected,
becomes a necessity [16], [9], [17].
This paper is exclusively centered on IR-drop. It addresses
the estimation of the PDN performance in the early steps of an
IC design by an analytical approach. As mentioned, this prob-
lem can also be tackled with numerical tools. However, the
analytical approach has the advantage that, in addition to pro-
viding a numerical solution, it shows the relationships between
the signicant parameters, improving the understanding of the
problem. Thus, there is room for an analytical tool that, in an
interactive fashion, rapidly provides approximate results for
the expected IR-drop of a PDN. This tool shows the depen-
dency of IR-drop on the number and size of pads and consum-
ing blocks, IC dimensions, current density and sheet resistance,
thus allowing rapid optimization of these parameters.
In their seminal paper [16], Shakeri and Meindl demonstrate
that the PDN can be approximated as a continuous layer of
conductive material and that IR-drop can be calculated by
solving a partial differential equation, that is, Poisson equation,
with the proper boundary conditions and source function. This
paper takes as the starting point the framework and denition
of the problem as presented in [16] without repeating the
derivation of the Poisson equation and related concepts, which
are extensively discussed in [16]. The organization of this
paper is as follows. Section II presents the problem to solve.
In Section III, expressions to obtain the IR-drop at any point
of an innite array-bonded PDN are derived for any number
and location of pads and any number of rectangular consuming
blocks. The results are used in Section IV to nd the solution
of the same problem in nite PDNs. In Section V, we compare
our formulas with electrical simulations of several PDNs.
Section VI discusses some features of the proposed approach
and nally, Section VII summarizes the conclusions of this
paper.
10638210/$31.00 2012 IEEE
RIUS: IR-DROP IN ON-CHIP POWER DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OF ICs 513
Fig. 1. IC with six consuming blocks and an array of power/ground pads.
II. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to the approach of [16], the IR-drop in a PDN
follows the Poisson equation:

2
V = R
S
J (1)
where V is the IR-drop (V), R
S
is the sheet resistance of the
PDN (), and J is the current density function (A/m
2
). The
sheet resistance R
S
is assumed to be constant in the whole
IC. In the array-bonding conguration, the supply current
drawn by the consuming blocks is supplied by an array of
power/ground pads distributed over the IC surface. Fig. 1
illustrates an IC with six blocks and an array of power/ground
pads (small black and white squares).
In the array-bonding conguration, the normal derivative of
the voltage, V/n (where symbol n in a rectangular IC means
either x or y), at the four sides of the PDN is zero; that is, the
current drawn by the blocks ows from the power to ground
pads through the PDN.
The solution of (1) for the simple case of constant J in an
innite IC with an innite PDN and an innite regular array
of pads is shown in [16]. A solution for the IR-drop at any
point is given in the form of several double and triple innite
series in [16]. After some approximations and numerical work,
the authors show that the maximum IR-drop (which is at the
center of a square with four supply pads at its vertices) is
given by
V
IRmax
=
R
S
I
PAD
2
ln
_
0.387a
D
PAD
_
(2)
where a is the distance between adjacent pads, is a correc-
tion factor related to the pad shape, and D
PAD
is the side
length of a square pad. The coefcient 0.387 is obtained
after a numerical calculation of the double and triple innite
series and assuming several approximations. Equation (2)
puts together the relevant variables in PDN design: the sheet
resistance of the power grid, R
S
, which is related to the metal
coverage of such grid; the current per pad, I
PAD
; the pad
density, a, which is related to the distance between the pads;
and the pad size, D
PAD
.
a
b
PAD
observation
point P
r
pp
r
pxy
dxdy
A
a
p
R
pad
V
0
a
b
PAD
observation
point P
r
pp
r
pxy
dxdy
A
a
p
R
pad
V
0
Fig. 2. Parameters involved in the analysis of the IR-drop at the observation
point P in an innite resistive plane with one pad and one consuming block.
In Sections III and IV, we obtain approximate expressions
for the IR-drop under more realistic conditions, that is, the
current density J is not constant in the whole IC and/or
the PDN is of nite dimensions. Instead of solving (1)
directly, we use several results from potential theory and
conformal mapping techniques to nd the IR-drop in these
cases.
At this point, it is appropriate to say that if the sheet
resistance R
S
of the PDN is nonisotropic, that is, if the sheet
resistance in the x-direction, R
SX
, and in the y-direction, R
SY
,
is different, a change in the independent variables x and y
makes the sheet resistance isotropic at the small price of a
change in the PDN dimensions [16]. Hence, our analysis only
considers the isotropic case, with R
S
constant.
Moreover, our analysis is intended for circular pads but, as
shown in [16] and [18], it can be extended to square pads by
using the concept of a circular pad of equivalent radius having
the same resistance to the PDN as the square pad.
III. IR-DROP IN AN INFINITE PDN
Let us now attack the following simpler problem: we
consider an innite PDN as a continuous conductive surface
with constant sheet resistance R
S
. A single block A of
dimensions a b m
2
and a constant current density J A/m
2
is connected to the PDN at an arbitrary place. At another
arbitrary point, there is a circular pad of radius a
P
that
supplies the current I
PAD
= abJ required by A. A resistance
R
pad
connects the pad to the power supply, which is assumed
to be at a constant voltage V
0
= 0. Fig. 2 illustrates the
geometry of the problem. The IR-drop between the pad
(whose voltage is V
pad
= JabR
pad
) and the potential V
P
at
any observation point P over the PDN is found as follows.
We denote the distance between the center of the pad and
the observation point P as r
Pp
, and the distance between
the differential area dxdy inside A and point P as r
Pxy
. The
potential at P is [19]
V
P
=
J R
S
2
a
_
0
b
_
0
ln
_
r
Pxy
_
dxdy
JabR
S
2
ln
_
r
Pp
_
. (3)
514 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO. 3, MARCH 2013
a
b
PAD
1
observation
point P
r
P1
r
pxy
dxdy
A
PAD
2
PAD
3
r
P2
r
P3
PAD
N
r
PN
a
p2
a
pN
a
p1
a
p3
R
pad
V
0 R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
a
b
PAD
1
observation
point P
r
P1
r
pxy
dxdy
A
PAD
2
PAD
3
r
P2
r
P3
PAD
N
r
PN
a
p2
a
pN
a
p1
a
p3
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0 R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
R
pad
V
0
Fig. 3. Parameters involved in the analysis of the IR-drop at the observation
point P in an innite resistive plane with multiple pads and one consuming
block.
Integrals like the one in (3) are well known in engineering
electromagnetics. Their explicit solution can be found else-
where [20]. They dene the so-called geometric mean distance
(GMD) between a point P and the rectangular block A, as
shown in the following equation:
a
_
0
b
_
0
ln
_
r
pxy
_
dxdy = ab ln (GMD
P
) . (4)
Now, (3) can be written as
V
P
=
J R
S
ab
2
ln
GMD
P
r
Pp
. (5)
If point P is at a distance a
P
from the center of the pad,
that is, at any point of its circumference, then the following
equalities hold:
r
Pp
= a
P
, V
P
= V
pad
, GMD
P

= GMD
pad
(6)
where GMD
pad
is the GMD from the center of the pad to
A, which is assumed to be the same as the distance from the
circumference of the pad to A provided that the pad radius a
P
is small with respect to the block dimensions.
Now the complete IR-drop, V
P
, between the power supply
and point P becomes
V
P
=
J R
S
ab
2
ln
_
GMD
pad
GMD
P
r
Pp
a
P
_
+ JabR
pad
. (7)
Let us now generalize this result for N pads.
A. Multiple Pads
Imagine the same block A and N circular pads, PAD
1
,
PAD
2
, , PAD
N
, of radius a
P1
, a
P2
, , a
PN
, and equal
resistances R
pad
, distributed on an innite PDN. It is assumed
that the pads are widely separated, that is, the distances
between them are much greater than their radius, r
i j
>> (a
Pi
,
a
Pj
). Fig. 3 shows the involved geometry.
Each pad supplies a fraction

of the total current drawn


by A. Thus
I
PADi
=
i
Jab,
N

i=1

i
= 1. (8)
Now we can write
V
P
=
JabR
S
2
ln (GMD
P
)

1
JabR
S
2
ln (r
P1
)

2
JabR
S
2
ln (r
P2
)

N
JabR
S
2
ln (r
PN
) .
(9)
That is
V
P
=
JabR
S
2
ln
GMD
P
N

i=1
r

i
Pi
(10)
where GMD
P
is the GMD between point P and block A, and
r
Pi
is the distance between point P and pad i , which supplies
the fraction
i
of the total current.
By applying the above principle, we can nd the IR-drop
between point P and the pad voltage. To do so, we place
point P at a distance a
Pi
from the center of pad i , that is, at
its circumference. Thus, the following equalities hold:
V
P
= V
pad i
=
i
JabR
pad
GMD
P

= GMD
i
r
P1
= r
i1
, r
P2
= r
i2
, . . . ,
r
Pi
= a
Pi
, . . . , r
PN
= r
i N
. (11)
By grouping together all the terms in i , we obtain the
following set of N equations, one for each value of i , with N
unknowns (the values of )
ln GMD
i

N

j =i

j
ln r
i j

i
_
ln a
Pi
2
R
pad
R
S
_
= 0,
i = 1, 2, . . . , N. (12)
Such N equations are not linearly independent because
of (8). However, we can subtract each equation in (12) from
its predecessor and build N 1 equations. These, together
with (8) form a system of N linearly independent equations
with N unknowns, as shown in (13)
ln
GMD
i
GMD
i+1
=
i
_
ln
a
Pi
r
i+1,i
2
R
pad
R
S
_
+
i+1
_
ln
r
i,i+1
a
P,i+1
+2
R
pad
R
S
_
+
N

j = i
j = i +1

j
ln
r
i j
r
i+1, j
N

i=1

i
= 1. (13)
RIUS: IR-DROP IN ON-CHIP POWER DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OF ICs 515
This system can be written in matrix form as

ln
a
P1
r
21
2
R
pad
R
S
ln
r
12
a
P2
+2
R
pad
R
S
ln
r
1,N1
r
2,N1
ln
r
1,N
r
2,N
ln
r
21
r
31
ln
a
P2
r
32
2
R
pad
R
S
ln
r
2,N1
r
3,N1
ln
r
2,N
r
3,N

ln
r
N1,1
r
N1
ln
r
N1,2
r
N2
ln
a
P,N1
r
N,N1
2
R
pad
R
S
ln
r
N1,N
a
PN
+2
R
pad
R
S
1 1 1 1

2
.
.
.

ln
GMD
2
GMD
1
ln
GMD
3
GMD
2

ln
GMD
N
GMD
N1
1

and in compact form as


M = B (14)
where M is an N N matrix, and and B are column
vectors of N elements. Now, vector can be easily calculated
with (15)
= M
1
B (15)
and the N elements of are the coefcients we are looking
for. As a simple example, if N = 2, the explicit result is

1
=
1
2
+
1
2
ln
GMD
2
GMD
1
ln
r
12
a
P
+2
R
pad
R
S

2
=
1
2

1
2
ln
GMD
2
GMD
1
ln
r
12
a
P
+2
R
pad
R
S
. (16)
B. Completing the Solution
The total IR-drop, V
P
, between the power supply and
point P can be calculated as the sum of the voltage drop
at the R
pad
of a reference pad plus the IR-drop from this pad
to point P. As any pad can be selected as the reference, we
choose pad 1. Thus, the formula for V
P
becomes
V
P
=
JabR
S
2
ln

GMD
1
GMD
P
N

j =1
r

j
Pj
a

1
P1
N

j =1
r

j
1 j

+
1
JabR
pad
(17)
which reduces to (7) if N = 1.
As can be seen, the problem of nding the IR-drop at any
point of an innite PDN having one consuming block and N
pads is solved if the fraction of the current supplied by each
pad (coefcients ) is known.
Because of the linearity of the problem, it is easy to
generalize (17) for M blocks by applying superposition. Thus,
the previous procedure is repeated M times, one for each
block, to calculate vectors
1
,
2
, ,
M
. Then, the total
IR-drop at any point is found by summing the contribution of
each block: V
P(total)
=

M
j =1
V
Pj
.
C. Flexibility and Generality of (17)
Under the above assumptions, (17) gives the IR-drop at any
point of a PDN with a sheet resistance R
S
, a number N of
circular pads of radius a
P
and resistance to power supply R
pad
,
and one block of dimensions a b with a current density J.
XX
a
a
2a
a
P
Fig. 4. Calculation of the IR-drop at the center of a square with four pads
and one square consuming block and an innite resistive plane.
Note that under the assumption of innite dimension for the
PDN, (17) is fully exible, which allows deciding on the
size and location of the consuming block, and the number,
radius, and location of pads. As will be shown in Section V,
the IR-drop V
P
as calculated from (17) provides a very
good approximation of the real IR-drop of nite PDNs if the
consuming block is not very close to the external borders of
the pad array, that is, the IC sides.
Equation (17) can also be used to calculate the maximum
IR-drop under the same conditions as those analyzed by Shak-
eri and Meindl in [16]. In this paper, the maximum IR-drop
(which is placed at the center of the square formed by four
pads) is given by (2), where the numerical coefcient is known
after a long calculation of several double and triple Fourier
series and assuming several approximations. The interested
reader may read [16] for details. As will be shown here, (2)
can be derived from (17), when the latter is applied to this
particular case.
Let us consider the square consuming block in Fig. 4, which
is embedded in an innite PDN with a sheet resistance R
S
.
In this example, R
pad
= 0. The side length of the block is
2a, which is twice the distance between adjacent pads. It
has four circular pads with the same radius a
P
symmetrically
distributed in the block. Note that this geometry reproduces
the scenario studied by Shakeri and Meindl, except that in
this case the consuming block is nite. Let us now use (17)
to calculate V
P
at its center, that is, the point marked with
X in Fig. 4.
In these conditions, (17) becomes
V
X
=
4Ja
2
R
S
2
ln
GMD
1
r

1
X1
r

2
X2
r

3
X3
r

4
X4
GMD
X
a

1
P
r

2
12
r

3
13
r

4
14
=
Ja
2
R
S
2
ln
_
GMD
1
r

1
X1
r

2
X2
r

3
X3
r

4
X4
GMD
X
a

1
P
r

2
12
r

3
13
r

4
14
_
4
. (18)
Due to the particular symmetry of the gure, (18) becomes
V
X
=
Ja
2
R
S
2
ln

GMD
1
2
1
2
a
1
4
GMD
X
2 2
1
8
a
1
4
P

4
=
I
PAD
R
S
2
ln
0.3797a
a
P
(19)
516 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO. 3, MARCH 2013
4 pads
16 pads
36 pads
64 pads
X
4 pads
16 pads
36 pads
64 pads
X
Fig. 5. Shakeri and Meindls problem [16]: calculation of the IR-drop at the
center of a square. The number of pads and the area of the square consuming
block tend to innity.
where GMD
1
and GMD
X
are calculated as functions of a from
the solution of (4), according to [21]. This result is very close
to Shakeri and Meindls formula (2). Now, to reproduce the
case in [16], we increase the size of the block and the number
of pads, as shown in Fig. 5.
In this way, we obtain an asymptotic equation for V
X
by
generalizing (18)
V
X
=
I
PAD
R
S
2
ln
_
coef a
a
P
_
. (20)
We check the coefcient of (20) for different numbers N
of symmetrically distributed pads. The results are shown in
Table I.
As can be seen, when N increases, the numerical coefcient
coef tends to a denite value which is very close to that
reported by Shakeri and Meindl in [16].
It is worth pointing out that the method to obtain the
numerical coefcient of (2) presented in our paper is much
simpler than that in [16] and gives practically the same results
under the same conditions. In addition, it is much more exible
and can be applied to a variety of cases because it does not
impose any restriction on the number, size, or symmetry of
the distribution of the consuming blocks and pads.
IV. IR-DROP IN A FINITE PDN
In Section III, we made a strong assumption of a PDN of
innite extension. Here, we remove this assumption because
it gives erroneous results in the estimation of the IR-drop
when the consuming blocks are close to the IC sides. In
fact, on-chip PDNs are on top of dies of nite dimensions,
L units wide and H units high. Let us now extend the results
of Section III to obtain the IR-drop for such PDNs. This
extension is based on the conformal transformation of the
interior of a rectangle in a complex plane Z into the upper
TABLE I
COEFFICIENT coef OF (20) AS A FUNCTION OF NUMBER OF PAD IN FIG. 5
N Calculated coef
4 0.3797
16 0.3810
36 0.3813
64 0.3814
100 0.3814
half of another complex plane W. Conformal transformation
is a mathematical technique that uses the functions of com-
plex variables to map complicated boundaries into simpler,
more readily analyzed congurations [21]. After the problem
is solved in the transformed conguration, inverting these
functions allows coming back to the original geometry. This
technique is restricted to 2-D elds satisfying Laplace or
Poisson equation, as in our case, and has been successfully
applied to many engineering problems. A good summary of
the technique and its applications can be read, for instance, in
the rst chapter of [21].
It is well known [21] that the Jacobi elliptic function w =
sn(z,k) maps the interior of a rectangle with vertices K, K,
K + j K

, K + j K

in the complex plane Z into the upper


half of the complex plane W. Here, j = sqrt(1) and K and
K

are complete elliptic integrals of the rst and second kind


related to the dimensions of the rectangle; the modulus k of
the elliptic functions can be calculated as follows [22]:
k =
_

3
_
2
(21)
where
2
and
3
are elliptic theta functions of the second and
third kind with zero argument. These functions are calculated
as follows [22]:

2
=

n=0
2q
_
n+
1
2
_
2

3
= 1 +

n=0
2q
n
2
q = e

L
H
. (22)
With this transformation, the side L/2, L/2 of the rectangle
in plane Z becomes the segment 1, 1 of the real axis of
plane W. The side L/2, L/2+jH of the rectangle becomes the
segment 1, 1/k of the real axis of plane W, whereas the side
L/2, L/2+jH becomes the segment 1, 1/k, and the side
L/2+jH, L/2+jH becomes the rest of the real axis of plane
W [21]. A sketch of the transformation showing the lines of
constants x and y is shown in Fig. 6(a) and (b).
Fig. 6(a) shows a square PDN with L = 1 and H = 1.
This PDN has nine identical pads identied by black circles.
The top and bottom sides of the square are drawn in black
and the left and right sides in gray. This square is mapped in
plane Z with its origin at the center of the bottom side. The
transformation w = sn(z, k) maps points z = x + j y of the
interior of this square into points w = u + j v of the upper half
of W, as drawn in Fig. 6(b). Thus, the origin of plane W is
also the origin of plane Z, and point jK

in Z is transformed
RIUS: IR-DROP IN ON-CHIP POWER DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OF ICs 517
-0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
x
jy
-0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
x
jy
(a)
-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
jv
u
-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
jv
u
(b)
Fig. 6. (a) Square PDN with L = 1, H = 1, nine pads (circles), and a rectangular block (thick line), represented in plane Z. (b) Same PDN, pads, and
block, represented in plane W. Dashed lines are the lines of constants x and y in plane Z (and constants u and v in plane W).
into the innity point in W. The size of pads is also modied,
being greater in W when they are far from the real axis and
smaller when they are close to the real axis. Notice that the
points of the real axis, v = 0 in W, are the transformed points
of the four sides of the rectangle in plane Z.
The current at the four sides of the PDN (the four sides of
the rectangle in Z) is zero. Therefore, the real axis of plane W
must have the same property, that is, the Neumann boundary
condition V/n = 0 must be satised in the real axis of W.
To force this condition, we need to add to W the image of the
upper half-plane [that is, the conjugate of plane W, conj(W)]
including the pads of the original W domain at their conjugate
coordinates.
After this step, we build the innite domain W

= WU
conj(W). By including the current sources in W and conj(W),
we can calculate the IR-drop in this innite domain using the
methods in Section III. However, caution must be taken when
including the current sources (rectangular blocks). Equation
(4) for GMD, as derived in [20], is valid only for rectangular
blocks. Therefore, this solution cannot be used directly in
W

because a rectangular block in Z transforms into a


nonrectangular gure in W

. Similarly, if pads are circles


in Z, in W

they take a different shape.


To overcome these restrictions, we use two results from
the theory of conformal mapping [19], [21]. The rst one is
that the regions about the corresponding points z and w are
innitesimally similar. This means further that angles between
the intersecting lines in plane Z are preserved between the
corresponding lines in plane W [19]. That is, if the circles
or squares in Z are sufciently small, their transformed
images in W are also circles and squares. The second one
is the invariance of the Poisson equation under a conformal
transformation, in other words, a differential area dx dy at
a point z Z transforms into a differential area du dv at a
point w W with a change of scale equal to | f

(z)|
2
and a
rotation of angle equal to the argument of f

(z), with f

(z)
being the derivative of the transformation f at point z. In our
case, f

(z) = sn

(z) = cn(z) dn(z), where cn(z) and dn(z)


are also Jacobi elliptic functions.
With these results, the application of the methods in
Section III to W

, including pads and blocks, becomes


possible if the radius of pads are small with respect to L and
H and if the blocks are small. If the blocks are large, they must
be divided into small square sub-blocks, and each transformed
sub-block in W

must be considered as a scaled and rotated


square, which is the image of the original sub-block in Z.
Bearing the above in mind, the procedure to nd the IR-drop
V
P
at any point of a nite PDN is as follows.
1) Map the PDN in plane Z into the half-space W by the
transformation w = sn(z). This mapping must include
the pads with scaled radius.
2) If necessary, divide the consuming blocks in Z into small
sub-blocks, and map them into W, scaling and rotating
them as required.
3) Add to W the conjugate half-plane conj(W) including
the transformed pads and blocks (or sub-blocks) in
conjugate positions. We now have the innite domain
W

= WU conj(W).
4) Obtain the IR-drop V
P
at any point P
W
W

by the method described in Section III for an innite


PDN considering all pads and all blocks (including the
conjugate ones).
5) Finally, come back to plane Z by using the inverse
function z = sn
1
(w,k) and nd the potential at point
P
Z
Z. The inversion requires calculating an incom-
plete elliptic integral of the rst kind, which is a standard
built-in function in any computer algebra system.
V. VALIDATION OF THE RESULTS
The above method was validated by comparing the calcu-
lated IR-drop with electrical simulations of PDNs of array-
bonded ICs with a range of values of their parameters.
The error metric is dened as the normalized difference
518 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO. 3, MARCH 2013
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Fig. 7. IC with an array of 16 pads and a block within the array.
Fig. 8. IC with an array of four pads and a block at the IC side.
between the value of the maximum IR-drop obtained by
the method described here and the value obtained from the
simulations.
A. Innite PDN
First, we compare the IR-drop predicted from the results
of Section III (innite PDN) with the electrical simulation
results. Fig. 7 illustrates the following case: one consuming
block of 12.5 mm
2
inside a chip of 10 10 mm
2
and an
array of 16 regularly spaced pads of radius 100 m. Here,
R
pad
= 0.
In this case, the consuming block is fully inside the array
of pads. As expected, the error in the IR-drop at any place
(including the location of its maximum) is small, that is, less
than 0.5%.
However, when the consuming block is at the chip side (that
is, totally or partially outside the array of pads), the error is
much greater. This is the case, for example, of Fig. 8: one
consuming block of 8 mm
2
inside a chip of 10 10 mm
2
and
four regularly spaced pads of radius 200 m. Here, R
pad
= 0.
Now the error is as large as 25%, which is an unacceptable
value. Fig. 9(a) and (b) shows the IR-drop distribution in
the electrical simulation and the calculation, respectively. The
differences resulting from the assumption of an innite PDN
are clearly visible.
Fig. 9. Difference of IR-drop on the PDN surface between (a) electrical
simulation and (b) calculation when an innite PDN is assumed in the IC of
Fig. 8.
B. Finite Rectangular PDN
To compare our results with the simulations of nite PDNs,
we dened chips of different sizes and features, including a
number of pads of different sizes excited by consuming blocks
of different sizes at different places and drawing different
currents.
In the HSPICE simulations, the PDN was dened as an
array of cells modeling the regular grid of metal segments
with the same length in the X and Y directions and same
width. These interconnected cells form the whole PDN. The
length of each segment was 100 m, and in our simulations
the square pads had a side length D
pad
of 1, 2, or 3 segment
lengths. According to the approach described in Section II,
an appropriate coefcient multiplying D
pad
was calculated
to obtain the equivalent radius of the circular pads with
the same resistance to the PDN as the square pads used
in the simulations. This coefcient depends on the number
of segments connected to the square pads in horizontal and
vertical directions. For 1, 2, and 3 segments, its value is
0.7071, 0.6334, and 0.6049, respectively. If the number of
segments goes to innity, this coefcient tends asymptotically
to 0.5903, which is the value given in [18] and used in [16].
The simplest check of our formulas is the comparison of
the maximum IR-drop when the consuming block is the whole
chip. The results are summarized in Table II, where the rst
column gives the chip size, the second, the length of a side of
RIUS: IR-DROP IN ON-CHIP POWER DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OF ICs 519
TABLE II
IR-DROP IN ICS WHERE THE CONSUMPTION IS CONSTANT IN THE WHOLE CHIP
Chip size (mm
2
) D
pad
(m) No. of pads r
segment
() R
S
() J(mA/mm
2
) V
calc
(mV) V
sim
(mV) Error (%)
7.2 7.2 200 9 4.4 2.2 25 100.0 99.3 +0.7
7.2 7.2 200 36 2.2 1.1 25 8.23 8.15 +0.98
2.6 2.6 100 4 4.4 2.2 25 28.81 28.73 +0.28
2.6 2.6 300 4 4.4 2.2 25 15.16 15.01 +1.0
10.4 10.4 100 64 2.2 1.1 25 14.40 14.36 +0.3
10.4 10.4 300 64 2.2 1.1 25 7.44 7.51 0.93
10.4 10.4 200 16 2.2 1.1 25 61.01 60.61 +0.66
A B C
D E F
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
3
J
4
A B C
D E F
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
1
J
2
J
3
J
4
Fig. 10. Six examples of ICs with nonuniform current distribution, and
different sheet resistance and number of pads.
the square pad, and the third, the number of pads. The fourth
and fth columns contain the resistance of a line segment, and
consequently the sheet resistance of our formulas. The sixth
column shows the current density, and the seventh and eighth
give the calculated and simulated maximum IR-drop for each
example, respectively. The last column contains the error as
dened before. In these examples, R
pad
= 0.
As can be seen in Table II, in all cases the maximum error
is 1%. Interestingly, by applying the result in [16] (2) to the
same examples, the error ranges from 2.8 to 10 %.
We also checked our results for a nonuniform current
distribution with two or more consuming blocks, each one
drawing a different amount of current. The six examples
simulated are illustrated in Fig. 10 and their main parameters
are described in Table III.
Here, examples AC illustrate a chip of 7.2 7.2 mm
2
with nine pads. Example D is of a chip of the same size but
with 36 pads, and examples E and F show a chip of 10.4
10.4 mm
2
with 16 pads. The dotted lines in Fig. 10 dene the
contour of the separation between the consuming blocks J
1
,
J
2
, and so on. Again, in these examples, R
pad
= 0.
Table III is divided into two parts. The second column in the
top part shows the size of the consuming block. The asterisk
(*) for examples C and E indicates that only the size of the
smaller consuming block is given, the other block is the rest
of the chip. The third and fourth columns contain the segment
resistance and sheet resistance, respectively. The fth and sixth
TABLE III
MAIN PARAMETERS OF THE SIX EXAMPLES OF THE PDN IN FIG. 10
Example
Block
size
(mm
2
)
r
segment
()
R
S
()
J
1
(mA/mm
2
)
J
2
(mA/mm
2
)
A 9.60 4.4 2.2 0 100
B 5.76 2.2 1.1 0 100
C 9.60 (*) 2.2 1.1 25 100
D 9.60 2.2 1.1 0 100
E 13.52 (*) 2.2 1.1 25 100
F
13.52,
27.04,
40.56,
27.04
2.2 1.1 100 25
Example
J
3
(mA/mm
2
)
J
4
(mA/mm
2
)
V
calc
(mV)
V
sim
(mV)
Error
(%)
A - - 195.89 194.80 +0.56
B - - 100.25 99.60 +0.65
C - - 120.74 120.3 +0.37
D - - 28.87 28.42 +1.58
E - - 146.50 145.64 +0.59
F 25 100 233.4 235.31 0.81
show the current density of blocks 1 and 2. The second and
third columns in the bottom part of Table III give the current
of blocks 3 and 4. The fourth and fth contain the calculated
and simulated maximum IR-drop in millivolts and nally, the
sixth column shows the error, which is below 1% in most
cases.
The inuence of R
pad
was investigated by repeating the
simulation of example D, but imposing R
pad
= 50 m. In this
case, the maximum IR-drop increases to 33.6 mV according
to our formulas, and to 33.08 mV in the simulations. Thus, the
error is again 1.57%. We also checked the calculated voltage
drop at each pad V
pad
. Table IV shows the results for all
36 pads. There, columns 2 and 6 contain the calculated voltage
in millivolts of each pad and, columns 3 and 7 the simulated
one. Columns 4 and 8 are the differences between both results
in microvolts.
Finally, Figs. 11 and 12 show a view of the IR-drop of
example F according to electrical simulations (Fig. 11) and
calculation (Fig. 12).
VI. DISCUSSION
A cardinal feature of our approach is that knowing the IR-
drop at a given point only requires knowing its coordinates,
chip size, and location of all pads and consuming blocks.
520 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO. 3, MARCH 2013
TABLE IV
VOLTAGE DROP ACROSS THE RESISTANCE R
pad
OF THE 36 PADS OF EXAMPLE D
No. of pad V
pad
(mV) (calc) V
pad
(mV) (sim) Diff. (V) No. of pad V
pad
(mV) (calc) V
pad
(mV) (sim) Diff. (V)
1 0.0494 0.0648 15.4 19 0.0338 0.0440 10.2
2 0.4851 0.4539 31.2 20 0.3523 0.3912 38.9
3 4.4046 4.3620 42.6 21 3.6979 3.6430 54.9
4 5.6705 5.5930 77.5 22 4.7674 4.6850 82.4
5 1.2613 1.2850 23.7 23 0.9624 0.9790 16.6
6 0.1269 0.1540 27.1 24 0.0882 0.1060 17.8
7 0.0488 0.0640 15.2 25 0.0156 0.0210 5.4
8 0.4832 0.5360 52.8 26 0.1326 0.1483 15.7
9 4.4003 4.3560 44.3 27 0.7089 0.7208 11.9
10 5.6656 5.5860 79.6 28 0.9065 0.9095 3.0
11 1.2582 1.2810 22.8 29 0.2987 0.3072 8.5
12 0.1257 0.1530 27.3 30 0.0386 0.0470 8.4
13 0.0457 0.0590 13.3 31 0.0043 0.0067 2.4
14 0.4660 0.5140 48.0 32 0.0210 0.0279 6.9
15 4.3474 4.2940 53.4 33 0.0630 0.0757 12.7
16 5.6020 5.5120 90.0 34 0.0757 0.0891 13.4
17 1.2274 1.2450 17.6 35 0.0371 0.0452 8.1
18 0.1189 0.1430 24.1 36 0.0091 0.0130 3.9
Fig. 11. IR-drop distribution on the surface of the PDN of example F
according to electrical simulations.
This is a great advantage over conventional approaches based
on the numerical solution of differential equations (that is,
nite element or nite difference methods), which require the
calculation of the IR-drop at all the points of the PDN surface
to know the IR-drop at a given point. Thus, our approach
makes it possible to obtain a faster response of IR-drop at
specic locations. In the case of searching the IR-drop at all
the points of the PDN surface, then both approaches have a
comparable execution time. Additionally, the execution time
is independent of the size of the consuming block. Let us
now sketch the computational complexity of the approach. At
this point, it is worth mentioning that no effort was made
to optimize the speed of our calculations, which are actually
written as MATLAB scripts.
Fig. 12. IR-drop distribution on the surface of the PDN of example F
according to calculation.
The algorithm can be roughly divided into three phases:
1) building plane W

and calculating the location and size of


the pads and blocks (or sub-blocks, when required), including
their images, on it; 2) executing the core of the algorithm,
which is in (15) and (17); and 3) coming back to plane Z,
performing the inverse transformation.
Phase 1) is extremely fast because it only requires the
conformal mapping of a small number of objects, like blocks
(or sub-blocks, when required) and pads, whose number is
limited. Its computational load depends on the product of the
number of pads and the number of blocks (or sub-blocks, when
required). In its turn, the computational load of phase 3) is
linearly proportional to the number of observation points
where the IR-drop must be known.
RIUS: IR-DROP IN ON-CHIP POWER DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OF ICs 521
TABLE V
EXECUTION TIME IN SECONDS AS A FUNCTION OF NUMBER OF PAD
(1, 25, AND 100), NUMBER OF OBSERVATION POINTS (1, 100, AND 900),
AND NUMBER OF BLOCKS (16, 96, 480, AND 1056)
1 PAD
Points/blocks 16 96 480 1056
1 0.08 0.38 1.85 4.07
100 0.20 1.12 5.51 12.06
900 1.12 6.68 33.32 73.16
25 PADS
Points/blocks 16 96 480 1056
1 0.20 1.15 5.69 12.48
100 0.46 2.69 13.33 29.30
900 2.47 14.75 73.75 162.12
100 PADS
Points/blocks 16 96 480 1056
1 0.94 5.52 27.47 60.42
100 1.60 9.52 47.53 104.55
900 6.96 41.69 208.37 458.30
Phase 2) has the highest computational load. Equation (15)
involves: 1) building matrix M of N N elements (where
N is the number of pads), each one containing the logarithm
of the ratio of the distances between two pads, which must
be calculated previously; 2) building vector B of N elements,
each one containing the logarithm of the ratio of the GMD of
two pads to the block, which must be calculated previously;
3) inverting matrix M; and 4) multiplying the inverted matrix
by B. Actions 1) and 3) must be done only once, and actions
2) and 4) must be done only once per block (or sub-block).
Thus, computational load of phase 2) depends on the number
of pads only and is independent of the number of points where
the IR-drop must be known.
On the other hand, (17) involves the following actions:
1) calculating the ratio between the GMD of the reference
pad and the product of all the distances between the reference
pad and all the pads at the power calculated previously in
(15); 2) multiplying the distances between the observation
point and each pad at the power calculated previously in (15);
3) calculating the GMD between the observation point, for
which the IR-drop must be known, and the consuming block;
4) dividing the results of actions 2) and 3); and 5) multiplying
the results of actions 1) and 2) and taking the logarithm.
Action 1) can be precomputed and the result is reused every
time (17) is calculated, but actions 2) to 5) must be executed
for every observation point for which the IR-drop must be
known. The above are operations on scalars, and therefore
the computational load increases linearly with the number
of observation points. For each block (or sub-block, when
required), (17) is executed as many times as the observation
points we dene are executed Thus, the computational load
depends on the product of the number of blocks (or sub-
blocks) and the number of observation points.
To give an idea of the execution time, we executed the
MATLAB script on a standard PC with an Intel Q8200 CPU
with a clock frequency of 2.33 GHz and 3 GB of RAM. Only
a single core was used in the runs. It is worth mentioning
here that in the open literature devoted to PDNs and related
topics, complex ICs are divided into a few tens of functional
blocks (see [23][25]), of known location, size, and average
consumption. Therefore, it seems reasonable to analyze the
execution times for this number of blocks. However, we also
present the execution time for cases involving a much higher
number of blocks (1056). Thus, Table V shows the execution
time in seconds for several combinations of number of pads,
number of blocks, and number of observation points. In all
cases, the IC size is 10 10 mm
2
. All blocks are of size
100 100 m
2
in order to ensure accurate calculation of the
IR-drop, and because no division into sub-blocks is required.
Except for the cases of one observation point, a small
fraction of the execution time is spent in phases 1) and 2) of
the algorithm. As mentioned, no attempt was made to optimize
the execution time, which can be improved with little effort by
taking advantage of the parallelizable nature of the algorithm,
recoding it in a compiled language and adapting it for parallel
execution in multicore processors.
These execution times, as well as the results of Section IV,
showing a good agreement between the IR-drop calculated
with our approach and the results obtained by electrical
simulation, demonstrate that our method is useful in exploring
the tradeoffs to optimize the PDN in its early design phase.
Parameters like the number, size, and distribution of pads,
metal coverage, or distribution of functional blocks can be
explored in an interactive way to obtain a preliminary view of
the consequences of each decision.
In addition, it is worth pointing out that, although our
approach has been described for PDNs in ip-chip packages,
it can also be used for wire-bonded ICs by placing the pads at
the IC periphery instead of over the PDN surface. Moreover, in
spite of the fact that this paper assumes a PDN with symmetric
ground and supply grids, the described methodology to get IR-
drop can also be applied in nonsymmetrical PDNs with power
and ground grids with different properties and with a different
pad distribution.
VII. CONCLUSION
This paper analyzed the IR-drop in PDNs of array-bonded
ICs. The PDN is modeled as a conductive surface of
constant sheet resistance. Under this restriction, closed-form
expressions to nd the fraction of current supplied by
each pad, given a set of consuming blocks inside the IC,
were derived. The number, size, and location of pads and
consuming blocks and the current drawn by each block are
arbitrary. Closed-form expressions to nd the IR-drop at
any point of a nite PDN of array-bonded ICs having any
number of pads were also given. The IC power is consumed
by rectangular blocks of any size, placed in any location and
drawing an arbitrary DC current. The effect of the resistance
between the IC pads and the power supply was also included
in the model. As particular cases, the methodology proposed
for the calculation of pad current and IR-drop is also valid for
wire-bonded ICs and nonsymmetrical PDNs. The analytical
expressions were validated with electrical simulations. The
maximum error found is in the range of 1%. The execution
522 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VERY LARGE SCALE INTEGRATION (VLSI) SYSTEMS, VOL. 21, NO. 3, MARCH 2013
time using a single core of an Intel Q8200 CPU, running a
MATLAB script with a clock frequency of 2.33 GHz and 3 GB
of RAM, is of 0.46 s for the calculation of the IR-drop at 100
observation points of a PDN of 10 10 mm
2
, with 25 supply
pads, and 16 consuming blocks. For the same PDN, with
100 supply pads, 1056 consuming blocks, and 900 points for
which the IR-drop must be known, the execution time is 458 s.
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Josep Rius received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in
electrical engineering from the Universitat Politc-
nica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona, Spain.
He has been an Associate Professor with the Elec-
tronic Engineering Department, UPC, since 1991.
His current research interests include VLSI testing,
power estimation, and power/signal integrity.