A Study of Decoupling Capacitor Effectiveness in Power and Ground Grid Networks

Aida Todri1,  Malgorzata Marek-Sadowska1,  Francois Maire2,  Christophe Matheron2
1UCSB, 2STMicroelectronics


Decaps can be very effective in reducing power grid noise, but they cannot be inserted on a chip in an ad-hoc manner without considering the grid parasitic impedances, switching frequencies of the blocks, and proximity to the power supply pins. It is possible that a decoupling capacitor inserted into a vacant space left by a placer may not only be inefficient, but can even be detrimental. In this paper, we present a detailed study of the decoupling capacitorís effectiveness in the uniform RLC power and ground grid networks. Based on the analysis of a simple circuit in which the decoupling capacitor amplifies the power grid noise, we explain why a decap can be detrimental. We introduce the effectiveness metrics for determining decoupling capacitor location which capture the effects of parasitic impedances between the decap and switching circuit, decap and power supply, and switching frequency and magnitude of the switching circuit. Our experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed metrics.