Skip to Main Content
In this paper, we propose a novel integrated circuit and architectural level technique to reduce leakage power consumption in high-performance cache memories using single Vt (transistor threshold voltage) process. We utilize the concept of gated-ground (nMOS transistor inserted between ground line and SRAM cell) to achieve a reduction in leakage energy without significantly affecting performance. Experimental results on gated-ground caches show that data is retained (DRG-Cache) even if the memory is put in the standby mode of operation. Data is restored when the gated-ground transistor is turned on. Turning off the gated-ground transistor in turn gives a large reduction in leakage power. This technique requires no extra circuitry; the row decoder itself can be used to control the gated-ground transistor. The technique is applicable to data and instruction caches as well as different levels of cache hierarchy, such as the L1, L2, or L3 caches. We fabricated a test chip in TSMC 0.25-μm technology to show the data retention capability and the cell stability of the DRG-Cache. Our simulation results on 100-nm and 70-nm processes (Berkeley Predictive Technology Model) show 16.5% and 27% reduction in consumed energy in L1 cache and 50% and 47% reduction in L2 cache, respectively, with less than 5% impact on execution time and within 4% increase in area overhead.