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Patent Issued for Integrated Circuit Chip Incorporating Embedded Thermal Radiators for Localized, On-Demand, Heating and a System and Method for...

July 2, 2014



Patent Issued for Integrated Circuit Chip Incorporating Embedded Thermal Radiators for Localized, On-Demand, Heating and a System and Method for Designing Such an Integrated Circuit Chip

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Graf, Richard S. (Gray, ME); Okamoto, Keishi (Kawasaki, JP); Pakbaz, Faraydon (Milton, VT); Smith, Jack R. (South Burlington, VT); Ventrone, Sebastian T. (South Burlington, VT), filed on January 5, 2011, was published online on June 17, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8756549, is International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to integrated circuit chips, and more specifically, to temperature control of integrated circuit chips particularly in low-temperature environments.

"Customers and, particularly, military and/or government customers often require integrated circuit chips to be operable at a specified very low ambient temperature (e.g., an ambient temperature of 0.degree. C., -20.degree. C., -55.degree. C., -75.degree. C., etc.). Many integrated circuit chips or components thereof are either non-functional or fail to meet specific performance requirements (i.e., fail to meet specific timing requirements) at very low temperatures. Unfortunately, circuits and/or circuit components designed to be functional and to meet specific performance requirements (i.e., timing requirements) at very low temperatures can be costly."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Disclosed herein are embodiments of an integrated circuit chip designed for reliability at low ambient temperatures. The integrated circuit chip can comprise a semiconductor substrate and a plurality of circuits on that substrate. The integrated circuit chip can further comprise metal wiring layers on the substrate above the circuits. At least one thermal radiator can be positioned in one of the metal wiring layers such that it is aligned above a temperature-sensitive zone (TSZ) within the substrate. Such a TSZ can comprise at least one temperature-sensitive circuit (i.e., a circuit that, at a specified low temperature, is known to be non-functional or known to be unable to meet performance specifications). Additionally, at least one temperature sensor can be positioned on the substrate adjacent to the TSZ (i.e., on the perimeter of the TSZ). This temperature sensor can sense the temperature of the TSZ and can be operatively connected to the thermal radiator so as to automatically trigger operation of the thermal radiator when the temperature, as sensed, is a below a predetermined threshold temperature. An on-chip power control system, which is capable of selectively controlling powering up and down of individual circuits on the integrated circuit chip, can also be operatively connected to the thermal radiator so that automatic triggering of thermal radiator operation only occurs immediately prior to powering up of any circuit within the TSZ.

"Also disclosed herein are embodiments of a system for designing such an integrated circuit chip. The system embodiments can comprise at least a timing analysis tool, a mapping tool and a design-for-reliability tool. The timing analysis tool can perform, based on an initial design for the integrated circuit chip, a timing analysis of the integrated circuit chip at a specified low temperature in order to identify any temperature-sensitive circuits within the integrated circuit chip. That is, the timing analysis is performed to identify circuits that are non-functional or unable to meet performance specifications at the specified low temperature. The mapping tool can be in communication with the timing analysis tool and can generate, based on the results of the timing analysis, a map that identifies at least one temperature-sensitive zone (TSZ) on the integrated circuit chip. Such a TSZ can comprise at least one temperature-sensitive circuit. The design-for-reliability tool can be in communication with the mapping tool and can insert, based on the map, at least one thermal radiator into the layout of the integrated circuit chip such that the thermal radiator is in a metal wiring layer and aligned above the TSZ. Additionally, the design-for-reliability tool can insert, again based on the map, at least one temperature sensor into the layout such that the temperature sensor is positioned adjacent to the perimeter of the TSZ, such that the temperature sensor senses the temperature of the TSZ and such that the temperature sensor is operatively connected to the thermal radiator in order to automatically trigger operation of the thermal radiator when the temperature is a below a predetermined threshold temperature. It should be noted that, if the initial design for the integrated circuit chip also includes an on-chip power control system capable of selectively controlling powering up and down of individual circuits, then the design-for-reliability tool can further insert the thermal radiator into the layout such it is operatively controlled by the on-chip power control system and, specifically, such that its operation will only be automatically triggered immediately prior to powering up of any circuit within the TSZ.

"Also disclosed herein are embodiments of a computer-implemented method for designing such an integrated circuit chip. The method embodiments can comprise performing, based on an initial design of the integrated circuit chip, a timing analysis at a specified low temperature in order to identify any temperature-sensitive circuits within the integrated circuit chip. That is, the timing analysis tool can perform the timing analysis in order to identify circuits that are non-functional or unable to meet performance specifications at the specified low temperature. Next, based on the results of the timing analysis, a map can be generated that identifies at least one temperature-sensitive zone (TSZ) on the integrated circuit chip. Such a TSZ can comprise at least one temperature-sensitive circuit. Then, based on this map, at least one thermal radiator can be inserted into the layout of the integrated circuit chip such that the thermal radiator is in a metal wiring layer and aligned above the temperature-sensitive zone. Also, based on this map, at least one temperature sensor can be inserted into the layout such that the temperature sensor is positioned adjacent to the perimeter of the TSZ, such that the temperature sensor senses the temperature of the TSZ and such that the temperature sensor is operatively connected to the thermal radiator in order to automatically trigger operation of the thermal radiator when the temperature is a below a predetermined threshold temperature. It should be noted that, if the initial design for the integrated circuit chip also includes an on-chip power control system capable of selectively controlling powering up and down of individual circuits, then the process of inserting the thermal radiator into the layout can further be performed so that the thermal radiator is operatively controlled by the on-chip power control system and, specifically, such that its operation will only be automatically triggered immediately prior to powering up of any circuit within the TSZ. The above-described method steps can be performed, for example, by any one or more components of a computer system."

For more information, see this patent: Graf, Richard S.; Okamoto, Keishi; Pakbaz, Faraydon; Smith, Jack R.; Ventrone, Sebastian T.. Integrated Circuit Chip Incorporating Embedded Thermal Radiators for Localized, On-Demand, Heating and a System and Method for Designing Such an Integrated Circuit Chip. U.S. Patent Number 8756549, filed January 5, 2011, and published online on June 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8756549.PN.&OS=PN/8756549RS=PN/8756549

Keywords for this news article include: International Business Machines Corporation.

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Source: Journal of Engineering


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