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Dynamic voltage scaling

Dynamic voltage scaling is a power management technique in computer architecture, where the voltage used in a component is
increased or decreased, depending upon circumstances. Dynamic voltage scaling to increase voltage is known as overvolting;
dynamic voltage scaling to decrease voltage is known as undervolting. Undervolting is done in order to conserve power, particularly
in laptops and other mobile devices,[1] where energy comes from a battery and thus is limited, or in rare cases, to increase reliability.
Overvolting is done in order to increase computer performance.

The term "overvolting" is also used to refer to increasing static operating voltage of computer components to allow operation at
higher speed (overclocking).

Contents
Background
Methods
Undervolting
Power
Program execution speed
Implementations
Operating system API
System stability
Temperature
Caveats
See also
References
Further reading

Background
MOSFET-based digital circuits operate using voltages at circuit nodes to represent logical state. The voltage at these nodes switches
between a high voltage and a low voltage during normal operation—when the inputs to a logic gate transition, the transistors making
up that gate may toggle the gate's output.

At each node in a circuit is a certain amount of capacitance. Capacitance can be thought of as a measure of how long it takes for a
given current to produce a given voltage change. The capacitance arises from various sources, mainly transistors (primarily gate
capacitance and diffusion capacitance) and wires (coupling capacitance). Toggling a voltage at a circuit node requires charging or
discharging the capacitance at that node; since currents are related to voltage, the time it takes depends on the voltage applied. By
applying a higher voltage to the devices in a circuit, the capacitances are charged and discharged more quickly, resulting in faster
operation of the circuit and allowing for higher frequency operation.

Methods
Many modern components allow voltage regulation to be controlled through software (for example, through the BIOS). It is usually
possible to control the voltages supplied to the CPU,RAM, PCI, and PCI Express (or AGP) port through a PC's BIOS.
However, some components do not allow software control of supply voltages, and hardware modification is required by overclockers
seeking to overvolt the component for extreme overclocks. Video cards and motherboard northbridges are components which
frequently require hardware modifications to change supply voltages.

These modifications are known as "voltage mods" in the overclocking community


.

Undervolting
Undervolting is reducing the voltage of a component, usually the processor, reducing temperature and cooling requirements, and
possibly allowing a fan to be omitted.

Power
The switching power dissipated by a chip using static CMOS gates is C·V2·f, where C is the capacitance being switched per clock
cycle, V is the supply voltage, and f is the switching frequency,[2] so this part of the power consumption decreases quadratically with
voltage. The formula is not exact however, as many modern chips are not implemented using 100% CMOS, but also use special
memory circuits, dynamic logic such as domino logic, etc. Moreover, there is also a static leakage current, which has become more
and more accentuated as feature sizes have become smaller (below 90 nanometres) and threshold levels lower
.

Accordingly, dynamic voltage scaling is widely used as part of strategies to manage switching power consumption in battery powered
devices such as cell phones and laptop computers. Low voltage modes are used in conjunction with lowered clock frequencies to
minimize power consumption associated with components such as CPUs and DSPs; only when significant computational power is
needed will the voltage and frequency be raised.

Some peripherals also support low voltage operational modes. For example, low power MMC and SD cards can run at 1.8 V as well
as at 3.3 V, and driver stacks may conserve power by switching to the lower voltage after detecting a card which supports it.

When leakage current is a significant factor in terms of power consumption, chips are often designed so that portions of them can be
powered completely off. This is not usually viewed as being dynamic voltage scaling, because it is not transparent to software. When
sections of chips can be turned off, as for example on TI OMAP3 processors, drivers and other support software need to support that.

Program execution speed


The speed at which a digital circuit can switch states - that is, to go from "low" (VSS) to "high" (VDD) or vice versa - is proportional
to the voltage differential in that circuit. Reducing the voltage means that circuits switch slower, reducing the maximum frequency at
which that circuit can run. This, in turn, reduces the rate at which program instructions that can be issued, which may increase run
time for program segments which are sufficiently CPU-bound.

This again highlights why dynamic voltage scaling is generally done in conjunction with dynamic frequency scaling, at least for
CPUs. There are complex tradeoffs to consider, which depend on the particular system, the load presented to it, and power
management goals. When quick responses are needed, clocks and voltages might be raised together. Otherwise, they may both be
kept low to maximize battery life.

Implementations
The 167-processor AsAP 2 chip enables individual processors to make extremely fast (on the order of 1-2ns) and locally controlled
changes to their own supply voltages. Processors connect their local power grid to either a higher (VddHi) or lower (VddLow) supply
voltage, or can be cut off entirely from either gridto dramatically cut leakage power.

[3]
Another approach uses per-core on-chip switchingregulators for dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS).

Operating system API


Unix system provides a userspace governor,allowing to modify the cpu frequencies (though limite
d to hardware capabilities).

System stability
Dynamic frequency scaling is another power conservation technique that works on the same principles as dynamic voltage scaling.
Both dynamic voltage scaling and dynamic frequency scaling can be used to prevent computer system overheating, which can result
in program or operating system crashes, and possibly hardware damage. Reducing the voltage supplied to the CPU below the
manufacturer's recommended minimum setting can result in system instability
.

Temperature
The efficiency of some electrical components, such as voltage regulators, decreases with increasing temperature, so the power used
may increase with temperature causingthermal runaway. Increases in voltage or frequency may increase system power demands even
[4][5]
faster than the CMOS formula indicates, and vice versa.

Caveats
The primary caveat of overvolting is increased heat: the power dissipated by a circuit increases with the square of the voltage applied,
so even small voltage increases significantly affect power. At higher temperatures, transistor performance is adversely af
fected, and at
some threshold, the performance reduction due to the heat exceeds the potential gains from the higher voltages. Overheating and
damage to circuits can occur very quickly when using high voltages.

There are also longer-term concerns: various adverse device-level effects such as hot carrier injection and electromigration occur
more rapidly at higher voltages, decreasing thelifespan of overvolted components.

See also
Power gating
Power–delay product (PDP)
Energy–delay product (EDP)
Dynamic frequency scaling
Switched-mode power supply applications(SMPS) applications
Switching energy

References
1. S. Mittal, "A survey of techniques for improving energy ef
ficiency in embedded computing systems(https://www.acad
emia.edu/4186102/A_survey_of_techniques_for_improving_energy_ef ficiency_in_embedded_computing_systems)",
IJCAET, 6(4), 440–459, 2014.
2. J. M. Rabaey. Digital Integrated Circuits. Prentice Hall, 1996.
3. Wonyoung Kim, Meeta S. Gupta, Gu-Yeon Wei and David Brooks. "System Level Analysis of Fast, Per-Core DVFS
using On-Chip Switching Regulators"(http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~meeta/my_papers/hpca08_onchipvrm.pdf).
2008.
4. Mike Chin. "Asus EN9600GT Silent Edition Graphics Card"(http://www.silentpcreview.com/article821-page5.html).
Silent PC Review. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-04-21.
5. MIke Chin. "80 Plus expands podium for Bronze, Silver & Gold"(http://www.silentpcreview.com/article814-page1.htm
l). Silent PC Review. Retrieved 2008-04-21.

Further reading
Gaudet, Vincent C. (2014-04-01) [2013-09-25]. "Chapter 4.1. Low-Power Design T
echniques for State-of-the-Art
CMOS Technologies". In Steinbach, Bernd. Recent Progress in the Boolean Domain(1 ed.). Newcastle upon Tyne,
UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 187–212.ISBN 978-1-4438-5638-6.

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