Infoscience

Conference paper

Energy versus Data Integrity Trade-Offs in Embedded High-Density Logic Compatible Dynamic Memories

Current variation aware design methodologies, tuned for worst-case scenarios, are becoming increasingly pessimistic from the perspective of power and performance. A good example of such pessimism is setting the refresh rate of DRAMs according to the worst-case access statistics, thereby resulting in very frequent refresh cycles, which are responsible for the majority of the standby power consumption of these memories. However, such a high refresh rate may not be required, either due to extremely low probability of the actual occurrence of such a worst-case, or due to the inherent error resilient nature of many applications that can tolerate a certain number of potential failures. In this paper, we exploit and quantify the possibilities that exist in dynamic memory design by shifting to the so-called approximate computing paradigm in order to save power and enhance yield at no cost. The statistical characteristics of the retention time in dynamic memories were revealed by studying a fabricated 2kb CMOS compatible embedded DRAM (eDRAM) memory array based on gain-cells. Measurements show that up to 73% of the retention power can be saved by altering the refresh time and setting it such that a small number of failures is allowed. % can save up to 3.8$\times$ of the retention power

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