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Efficient Metastability Characterization for Schmitt-Triggers

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Document pages: 10 pages

Abstract: Despite their attractiveness as metastability filters, Schmitt-Triggers cansuffer from metastability themselves. Therefore, in the selection orconstruction of a suitable Schmitt-Trigger implementation, it is a necessity toaccurately determine the metastable behavior. Only then one is able to comparedifferent designs and thus guide proper optimizations, and only then one canassess the potential for residual metastable upsets. However, while the stateof the art provides a lot of research and practical characterization approachesfor flip-flops, comparatively little is known about Schmitt-Triggercharacterization. Unlike the flip-flop with its single metastable point, theSchmitt-Trigger exhibits a whole range of metastable points depending on theinput voltage. Thus the task of characterization gets much more challenging.In this paper we present different approaches to determine the metastablebehavior of Schmitt-Triggers using novel methods and mechanisms. We comparetheir accuracy and runtime by applying them to three common circuitimplementations. The achieved results are then used to reason about themetastable behavior of the chosen designs which turns out to be problematic insome cases. Overall the approaches proposed in this paper are generic and canbe extended beyond the Schmitt-Trigger, i.e., to efficiently characterizemetastable states in other circuits as well.

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