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Device-architecture co-optimization of STT-RAM based memory for low power embedded systems

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6 Author(s)
Cong Xu ; Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Pennsylvania State University ; Dimin Niu ; Xiaochun Zhu ; Seung H. Kang
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Spin-transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM) is a fast, scalable, durable non-volatile memory which can be embedded into standard CMOS process. A wide range of write speeds from 1ns to 100ns have been reported for STT-RAM. The switching current of magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) (which is the storage element of STT-RAM) is inversely proportional to the write pulse width. In this work, we propose a methodology to design STT-RAM for different optimization goals such as read performance, write performance and write energy by leveraging the trade-off between write current and write time of MTJ. We take the typical in-plane MTJ and advanced perpendicular MTJ (PMTJ) as our optimization targets. Our study shows that reducing write pulse width will harm read latency and energy. It is observed that “sweet spots” of write pulse width which minimize the write energy or write latency of STT-RAM caches may exist. The optimal write pulse width depends on MTJ specifications, STT-RAM capacity and I/O width. The simulation results indicate that by utilizing PMTJ, the optimized STT-RAM can compete against SRAM and DRAM as universal memory replacement in low power embedded systems.

Published in:

2011 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD)

Date of Conference:

7-10 Nov. 2011