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In this paper, standard-cell based memories (SCMs) are proposed as an alternative to full-custom sub-VT SRAM macros for ultra-low-power systems requiring small memory blocks. The energy per memory access as well as the maximum achievable throughput in the sub-VT domain of various SCM architectures are evaluated by means of a gate-level sub-VT characterization model, building on data extracted from fully placed, routed, and back-annotated netlists. The reliable operation at the energy-minimum voltage of the various SCM architectures in a 65-nm CMOS technology considering within-die process parameter variations is demonstrated by means of Monte Carlo circuit simulation. Finally, the energy per memory access, the achievable throughput, and the area of the best SCM architecture are compared to recent sub-VT SRAM designs.
Emerging and Selected Topics in Circuits and Systems, IEEE Journal on (Volume:1 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: June 2011