Spin-transfer-torque (STT) devices for on-chip memory and their applications to low-standby power systems
With the scaling of CMOS technology, the proportion of the leakage power to total power consumption increases. Leakage may account for almost half of total power consumption in high performance processors. In order to reduce the leakage power, there is an increasing interest in using nonvolatile storage devices for memory applications. Among various promising nonvolatile memory elements, spin-transfer torque magnetic RAM (STT-MRAM) is identified as one of the most attractive alternatives to conventional SRAM. However, several design challenges of STT-MRAM such as shared read and write current paths, single-ended sensing, and high dynamic power are major challenges to be overcome to make it suitable for on-chip memories. To mitigate such problems, we propose a domain wall coupling based spin-transfer torque (DWCSTT) device for on-chip caches. Our proposed DWCSTT bit-cell decouples the read and the write current paths by the electrically-insulating magnetic coupling layer so that we can separately optimize read operation without having an impact on write-ability. In addition, the complementary polarizer structure in the read path of the DWCSTT device allows DWCSTT to enable self-referenced differential sensing. DWCSTT bit-cells improve the write power consumption due to the low electrical resistance of the write current path. Furthermore, we also present three different bit-cell level design techniques of Spin-Orbit Torque MRAM (SOT-MRAM) for alleviating some of the inefficiencies of conventional magnetic memories while maintaining the advantages of spin-orbit torque (SOT) based novel switching mechanism such as low write current requirement and decoupled read and write current path. Our proposed SOT-MRAM with supporting dual read/write ports (1R/1W) can address the issue of high-write latency of STT-MRAM by simultaneous 1R/1W accesses. Second, we propose a new type of SOT-MRAM which uses only one access transistor along with a Schottky diode in order to mitigate the area-overhead caused by two access transistors in conventional SOT-MRAM. Finally, a new design technique of SOT-MRAM is presented to improve the integration density by utilizing a shared bit-line structure.
Roy, Purdue University.
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