RRAM-VAC: A Variability-Aware Controller for RRAM-based Memory Architectures

The growing need for connected, smart and energy efficient devices requires them to provide both ultra-low standby power and relatively high computing capabilities when awoken. In this context, emerging resistive memory technologies (RRAM) appear as a promising solution as they enable cheap fine grain technology co-integration with CMOS, fast switching and non-volatile storage. However, RRAM technologies suffer from fundamental flaws such as a strong device-to-device and cycle-to-cycle variability which is worsened by aging, forcing the designers to consider worst case design conditions. In this work, we propose, for the first time, a circuit that can take advantage of recently published Write Termination (WT) circuits from both the energy and performances point of view. The proposed RRAM Variability Aware Controller (RRAM-VAC) stores and then coalesces the write requests from the processor before triggering the actual write process. By doing so, it averages the RRAM variability and enables the system to run at the memory programming time distribution mean rather than the worst case tail. We explore the design space of the proposed solution for various RRAM variability specifications, benchmark the effect of the proposed memory controller with real application memory traces and show (for the considered RRAM technology specifications) 44 to 50% performances improvement and from 10% to 85% energy gains depending on the application memory access patterns.

Published in:
[Proceedings of the 25th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference ASP-DAC 2020]
Presented at:
25th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference ASP-DAC 2020, Beijing China, January 13-16, 2020

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 Record created 2019-09-19, last modified 2020-10-29

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