Superconducting Logic Circuits Operating With Reciprocal Magnetic Flux Quanta
Oberg, Oliver Timothy
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Complimentary Medal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology is expected to soon reach its fundamental limits of operation. The fundamental speed limit of about 4 GHz has already effectively been sidestepped by parallelization. This increases raw processing power but does nothing to improve power dissipation or latency. One approach for increasing computing performance involves using superconducting digital logic circuits. In this thesis I describe a new kind of superconducting logic, invented by Quentin Herr at Northrop Grumman, which uses reciprocal pairs of quantized single magnetic flux pulses to encode classical bits. In Reciprocal Quantum Logic (RQL) the data is encoded in integer units of the magnetic flux quantum. RQL gates operate without the bias resistors of previous superconducting logic families and dissipate several orders of magnitude less power. I demonstrate the basic operation of key RQL gates (AndOr, AnotB, Set/Reset) and show their self-resetting properties. Together, these gates form a universal logic set and provide memory capabilities. Experiments measuring the bit error rate of the AndOr gate extrapolated a minimum BER of 10<super>-480</super> and a BER of 10<super>-44</super> with 30% margins on flux biasing. I describe an analytic timing model for RQL gates which demonstrates the self-correcting timing features. From this model I derive equations for the timing behavior and operating limits. Using this timing model I ran simulations to determine correction factions for more accurate predictions at higher frequencies. Using these results, I also develop Very High Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) Hardware Description Language (VHDL) models to describe the combinational logic of RQL gates. To test the timing predictions of the timing model, I performed three experiments on Nb/AlOx/Nb circuits at 4.2 K. The first measured the time of output. The second measured the operating margins of the circuit. The third measured the maximum frequency of operation for RQL circuits. Together, these three experiments showed quantitative agreement with the model for the timing output, qualitative agreement with the limits of operation, and a projected speed limit of 50 GHz for the Hypres 4.5 kA/cm<super>2</super> process. To power RQL circuits I describe a new design for power splitters and combiners which minimize standing waves. I describe a new kind of Wilkinson power splitter which required numerical optimization but proved to be adequate. I experimentally tested two new designs of the power splitter. Both showed less than 10% variation in standing waves between power splitter and combiner, making it adequate for RQL circuits. I also compared these results with the S-parameters of the power network, which also indicated that the design was adequate for RQL circuits. Finally, I tested an 8-bit Kogge-Stone architecture carry-look ahead adder designed using VHDL models. The adder contained 815 Josephson junctions and was fully functional at 6.21 GHz with a latency of 1.25 clock cycles. The adder produced the correct logical output, had a measured optimal operating point within 8% of the optimal simulated operating point, and measured power margins of 1 dB. It operated best at the designed clock amplitude of 0.88I<sub>c</sub> and dissipated 0.570 mW of power.