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Low-Power, Low-Voltage SRAM Circuits Design For Nanometric CMOS Technologies
Embedded SRAM memory is a vital component in modern SoCs. More than 80% of the System-on-Chip (SoC) die area is often occupied by SRAM arrays. As such, system reliability and yield is largely governed by the SRAM's performance and robustness. The aggressive scaling trend in CMOS device minimum feature size, coupled with the growing demand in high-capacity memory integration, has imposed the use of minimal size devices to realize a memory bitcell. The smallest 6T SRAM bitcell to date occupies a 0.1um2 in silicon area. SRAM bitcells continue to benefit from an aggressive scaling trend in CMOS technologies. Unfortunately, other system components, such as interconnects, experience a slower scaling trend. This has resulted in dramatic deterioration in a cell's ability to drive a heavily-loaded interconnects. Moreover, the growing fluctuation in device properties due to Process, Voltage, and Temperature (PVT) variations has added more uncertainty to SRAM operation. Thus ensuring the ability of a miniaturized cell to drive heavily-loaded bitlines and to generate adequate voltage swing is becoming challenging. A large percentage of state-of-the-art SoC system failures are attributed to the inability of SRAM cells to generate the targeted bitline voltage swing within a given access time.
The use of read-assist mechanisms and current mode sense amplifiers are the two key strategies used to surmount bitline loading effects. On the other hand, new bitcell topologies and cell supply voltage management are used to overcome fluctuations in device properties. In this research we tackled conventional 6T SRAM bitcell limited drivability by introducing new integrated voltage sensing schemes and current-mode sense amplifiers. The proposed schemes feature a read-assist mechanism. The proposed schemes' functionality and superiority over existing schemes are verified using transient and statistical SPICE simulations. Post-layout extracted views of the devices are used for realistic simulation results.
Low-voltage operated SRAM reliability and yield enhancement is investigated and a
wordline boost technique is proposed as a means to manage the cell's WL operating voltage. The proposed wordline driver design shows a significant improvement in reliability and yield in a 400-mV 6T SRAM cell. The proposed wordline driver design exploit the cell's Dynamic Noise Margin (DNM), therefore boost peak level and boost decay rate programmability features are added. SPICE transient and statistical simulations are used to verify the proposed design's functionality.
Finally, at a bitcell-level, we proposed a new five-transistor (5T) SRAM bitcell which shows competitive performance and reliability figures of merit compared to the conventional 6T bitcell. The functionality of the proposed cell is verified by post-layout SPICE simulations. The proposed bitcell topology is designed, implemented and fabricated in a standard ST CMOS 65nm technology process. A 1.2_ 1.2 mm2 multi-design project test chip consisting of four 32-Kbit (256-row x 128-column) SRAM macros with the required peripheral and timing control units is fabricated. Two of the designed SRAM macros are dedicated for this work, namely, a 32-Kbit 5T macro and a 32-Kbit 6T macro which is used as a comparison reference. Other macros belong to other projects and are not discussed in this document.