Subthreshold SRAM Design for Energy Efficient Applications in Nanometric CMOS Technologies
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Embedded SRAM circuits are vital components in a modern system on chip (SOC) that can occupy up to 90% of the total area. Therefore, SRAM circuits heavily affect SOC performance, reliability, and yield. In addition, most of the SRAM bitcells are in standby mode and significantly contribute to the total leakage current and leakage power consumption. The aggressive demand in portable devices and billions of connected sensor networks requires long battery life. Therefore, careful design of SRAM circuits with minimal power consumption is in high demand. Reducing the power consumption is mainly achieved by reducing the power supply voltage in the idle mode. However, simply reducing the supply voltage imposes practical limitations on SRAM circuits such as reduced static noise margin, poor write margin, reduced number of cells per bitline, and reduced bitline sensing margin that might cause read/write failures. In addition, the SRAM bitcell has contradictory requirements for read stability and writability. Improving the read stability can cause difficulties in a write operation or vice versa. In this thesis, various techniques for designing subthreshold energy-efficient SRAM circuits are proposed. The proposed techniques include improvement in read margin and write margin, speed improvement, energy consumption reduction, new bitcell architecture and utilizing programmable wordline boosting. A programmable wordline boosting technique is exploited on a conventional 6T SRAM bitcell to improve the operational speed. In addition, wordline boosting can reduce the supply voltage while maintaining the operational frequency. The reduction of the supply voltage allows the memory macro to operate with reduced power consumption. To verify the design, a 16-kb SRAM was fabricated using the TSMC 65 nm CMOS technology. Measurement results show that the maximum operational frequency increases up to 33.3% when wordline boosting is applied. Besides, the supply voltage can be reduced while maintaining the same frequency. This allows reducing the energy consumption to be reduced by 22.2%. The minimum energy consumption achieved is 0.536 fJ/b at 400 mV. Moreover, to improve the read margin, a 6T bitcell SRAM with a PMOS access transistor is proposed. Utilizing a PMOS access transistor results in lower zero level degradation, and hence higher read stability. In addition, the access transistor connected to the internal node holding V DD acts as a stabilizer and counterbalances the effect of zero level degradation. In order to improve the writability, wordline boosting is exploited. Wordline boosting also helps to compensate for the lower speed of the PMOS access transistor compared to a NMOS transistor. To verify our design, a 2kb SRAM is fabricated in the TSMC 65 nm CMOS technology. Measurement results show that the maximum operating frequency of the test chip is at 3.34 MHz at 290 mV. The minimum energy consumption is measured as 1.1 fJ/b at 400 mV.
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Morteza Nabavi (2018). Subthreshold SRAM Design for Energy Efficient Applications in Nanometric CMOS Technologies. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12931