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VDD scaling is an efficient technique to reduce SRAM leakage power during standby mode. The data retention voltage (DRV) defines the minimum VDD that can be applied to an SRAM cell without losing data. The conventional worst-case guard-banding approach selects a fixed standby supply voltage at design time to accommodate the variability of DRV, which sacrifices potential power savings for non-worst-case scenarios. We have proposed a canary-based feedback to achieve aggressive power savings by tracking PVT variations through canary cell failures. In this paper, we show new measured silicon results that confirm the ability of the canary scheme to track PVT changes. We thoroughly analyze the adaptiveness of the canary cells for tracking changes in the SRAM array, including the ability to track PVT fluctuations. We present circuits for robustly building the control logic that implements the feedback mechanism at subthreshold supply voltages, and we derive a new analytical model to help tune the canary cells in the presence of variations. To realistically quantify the potential savings achievable by the canary scheme, we assess the impact of various sources of overhead. Finally, we investigate the performance of the canary based scheme in nanometer technologies, and we show that it promises to provide substantial standby power savings down to the 22 nm node.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2008