Reliability in the face of variability in nanometer embedded memories
ColaboratorGonzález Colás, Antonio María; Rubio Sola, Jose Antonio; Canal Corretger, Ramon; Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament d'Arquitectura de Computadors
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
In this thesis, we have investigated the impact of parametric variations on the behaviour of one performance-critical processor structure - embedded memories. As variations manifest as a spread in power and performance, as a first step, we propose a novel modeling methodology that helps evaluate the impact of circuit-level optimizations on architecture-level design choices. Choices made at the design-stage ensure conflicting requirements from higher-levels are decoupled. We then complement such design-time optimizations with a runtime mechanism that takes advantage of adaptive body-biasing to lower power whilst improving performance in the presence of variability. Our proposal uses a novel fully-digital variation tracking hardware using embedded DRAM (eDRAM) cells to monitor run-time changes in cache latency and leakage. A special fine-grain body-bias generator uses the measurements to generate an optimal body-bias that is needed to meet the required yield targets. A novel variation-tolerant and soft-error hardened eDRAM cell is also proposed as an alternate candidate for replacing existing SRAM-based designs in latency critical memory structures. In the ultra low-power domain where reliable operation is limited by the minimum voltage of operation (Vddmin), we analyse the impact of failures on cache functional margin and functional yield. Towards this end, we have developed a fully automated tool (INFORMER) capable of estimating memory-wide metrics such as power, performance and yield accurately and rapidly. Using the developed tool, we then evaluate the #effectiveness of a new class of hybrid techniques in improving cache yield through failure prevention and correction. Having a holistic perspective of memory-wide metrics helps us arrive at design-choices optimized simultaneously for multiple metrics needed for maintaining lifetime requirements.
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