Improving Power Delivery for High-Performance Computing

ECE Professor Nian Sun and Associate Professor Aatmesh Shrivastava, in collaboration with Khurram Afridi and Huili (Grace) Xing from Cornell University, were awarded a $2M NSF grant for “Heterogeneous Integration in Power Electronics for High-Performance Computing (HIPE-HPC).” This grant was awarded as part of the NSF Future of Semiconductors (FuSe) program.

Abstract Source: NSF

The energy utilized for computing is more than 2 percent of global energy consumption, and a substantial fraction of it is wasted in the final stages of power delivery to microprocessors. Hence, efficiency improvement and size reduction (to overcome space limitations) are the main objectives for the next generation of power delivery solutions for high-performance computing. These require switches and inductors that can support higher voltages, currents, and frequencies with lower losses. Silicon (Si) complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology can provide a high level of integration and control, but Si CMOS switches have higher switching losses. Wide-bandgap semiconductor materials enable better switches, but they cannot be easily integrated with the Si CMOS process. High-performance power delivery solutions also require compact integrated inductors that can support higher power, higher frequencies for miniaturization, and lower core losses. This Future of Semiconductors (FuSe) project uses co-designing and heterogeneous integration of wide-bandgap semiconductor devices and on-chip ferrite inductors with CMOS technology and a new power conversion architecture to develop next-generation integrated power delivery systems for high-performance computing. The project will have a significant scientific and societal impact by contributing to the technological foundations of highly efficient backside integrated power delivery systems for high-performance computing and enhancing US competitiveness in semiconductor manufacturing. The project will also strengthen the education of graduate and undergraduate students on essential topics of semiconductors, magnetics, power electronics, integrated circuits, high-performance computing, among other core technologies. An extensive workforce development program is also planned to attract students to the fields related to this project and to educate people already working in the industry with an emphasis on underrepresented groups. Outcome evaluation of the project’s research, education, and workforce development activities will be carried out using internal and external surveys for qualitative and quantitative data.

The 3D heterogeneous integration of power electronics for high-performance computing will be realized by leveraging an interposer having integrated magnetic inductors with new spin spray deposited ferrites, advanced high-voltage GaN switches, a novel single-stage point-of-load power converter architecture, and integrated high-voltage constant-frequency phase-shift control circuits in CMOS. Spin spray deposition of ferrites enables integrated thick ferrite films on-chip with a high relative permeability of ~3000 from aqueous solutions with readily tailored compositions at low temperatures of ~90 degrees C for integrated inductors and transformers on Si, printed circuit board, or other substrates for integrated power electronics. The high-voltage enhancement-mode GaN devices will utilize 3D sculptured field management to achieve record power figure-of-merits. The single-stage point-of-load conversion architecture can maintain zero-voltage and near-zero current switching across wide voltage and power ranges and enables high power density with high and flat efficiencies. Co-design of the power conversion architecture, CMOS integrated-circuits-based control, high-performance GaN switches, interposer with integrated magnetic components, and magnetic materials will help achieve compact and highly efficient integrated backside point-of-load power electronics for high-performance computing. This convergent co-design will be conducted by a qualified team with complementary expertise, ranging from wide-bandgap semiconductor switches, magnetic materials and integrated magnetic components, CMOS control circuits, and power conversion architectures. This activity will also result in new co-design methodologies leveraging circuit simulation and multi-physics analysis, and design tools.

Related Faculty: Nian X. Sun, Aatmesh Shrivastava

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering