Publications in Scientific Journals:

T. Polzer, A. Steininger:
"A Model for the Metastability Delay of Sequential Elements";
Journal of Circuits, Systems, and Computers, 26 (2017), 8; 174001001 - 174001022.

English abstract:
It is well known that every sequential element may become metastable when provided with
marginal inputs, such as input transitions occurring too close or input voltage not reaching a
deŻned HI or LO level. In this case the sequential element requires extra time to decide which
digital output level to Żnally present, which is perceived as an output delay. The amount of
this delay depends on how close the element's state is to the balance point, at which the delay
may, theoretically, become inŻnite. While metastability can be safely avoided within a closed
timing domain, it cannot be completely ruled out at timing domain boundaries. Therefore it
is important to quantify its e®ect. Traditionally this is done by means of a \mean time
between upsets" (MTBU) which gives the expected interval between two metastable upsets.
The latter is deŻned as the event of latching the still undecided output of one sequential
element by a subsequent one. However, such a deŻnition only makes sense in a time-safe
environment like a synchronous design. In this paper we will extend the scope to so-called
value-safe environments, in which a sequential element can safely Żnalize its decision, since
the subsequent one waits for completion before capturing its output. Here metastability is not
a matter of \failure" but a performance issue, and hence characterization by MTBU is not
intuitive. Therefore we will put the focus on the delay aspect and derive a suitable model.
This model extends existing approaches by also including the area of very weak metastability
and thus providing complete coverage. We will show its validity through comparison with
transistor-level simulation results for the most popular sequential elements in di®erent
implementations, point out its relation to the traditional MTBU model parameters, namely
tau and T0, and show how to use it for calculating the performance penalty in a value-safe

Comparison of metastability behaviors; metastability characterization; asynchronous logic; Muller C-element; RS-latch; mutex; model

"Official" electronic version of the publication (accessed through its Digital Object Identifier - DOI)

Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.