Quiz: Modeling skew requirements with data-to-data setup and hold checks


Problem: Suppose there are 'N' signals which are to be skew matched within a window of 200 ps with respect to each other. Model this requirement with the help of data setup and hold checks.

As we discussed in data setup and data hold checks, data setup check of 200 ps means that constrained data should come at least 200 ps before the reference data. Similarly, data hold check of 200 ps constrains the constrained data to come at least 200 ps after the reference data. The same is shown pictorially in figure 1(a) and 1(b).


Data check of 200 ps ensures the constrained data to come at least 200 ps before the reference data
Figure 1(a): Data setup check of 200 ps constrains the constrained signal to toggle at-least 200 ps before reference signal toggles.

Data hold check of 200 ps ensures that the constrained data comes at least 200 ps after the reference data
Figure 1(b): Data hold check of 200 ps constrains the constrained signal to toggle at-least 200 ps after the reference signal has toggled.

Now, suppose you apply a data setup check of -200 ps instead of 200 ps. This would mean that the constrained signal can toggle upto 200 ps after the reference signal. Similarly, a data hold check of -200 ps would mean that the constrained signal can toggle from 200 ps before the reference signal. If we apply both the checks together, it would infer that constrained signal can toggle in a window that ranges from 200 ps before the toggling of reference signal to 200 ps after the toggling of reference signal. This is pictorially shown in figures 2(a) and 2(b).

Negative data setup and data hold checks together will ensure a skew check between reference and constrained signals
Figure 2(a): Negative data setup and hold checks of 200 ps
If we combine the two checks, it implies that the constrained data can toggle upto 200 ps after and from 200 ps before the reference signal. In other words, we have constrained the constrained signal to toggle in a window +- 200 ps within the reference signal.

Coming to the given problem, if there are a number of signals required to toggle within a window of 200 ps, we can consider one of these to act as reference signal and other signals as constrained signals. The other signals can then be constrained in both setup and hold with respect to reference signal such that all of these lie within +-100 ps of the reference signal. The same is shown in figure 3 below:

We can constrain the signals to toggle within a window by choosing one of these as reference signal and applying negative data setup and data hold checks for other signals with respect to reference signal
Figure 3: Data checks to maintain skew between N signals


Also read:



Lockup latches vs. lockup registers: what to choose

Both lockup latches and lockup registers are used to make scan chain robust to hold failures. What one uses for the same depends upon his/her priorities and the situation. However, it seems lockup latches are more prevalent in designs of today. This might be due to following reasons:
  1. Area: As we know, a latch occupies only half the area as a register. So, using lockup latches instead of lockup registers gives us area and power advantage; i.e., less overhead.
  2. Timing: Lockup elements – timing perspective has given an analysis of how timing critical lockup elements (lockup latches and lockup registers) paths can be. According to it, using a negative lockup latch, you don’t have to meet timing at functional (at-speed) frequency. However, in all other cases, you need to meet timing. This might also be a reason people prefer lockup latches.

Lockup latches, on one hand relax only one side hold. So, you can afford to have skew only on one side, either on launch or on capture. Lockup registers, on the other hand, let you have skew on both the sides. So, lockup latches are preferable where you can afford to have tap on the clock either from launch flop or on capture flop. On the other hand, lockup flops can be used by tapping clock from any point as long as you meet setup and hold timings.

Hope you’ve found this post useful. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Also read: