Increasing demand for implementing highly-miniaturized battery-powered ultra-low-cost systems (e.g., below 1 USD) in emerging applications such as body, urban life and environment monitoring, etc., has introduced many challenges in the chip design. Such applications require high performance occasionally, but very little energy consumption during most of the time in order to extend battery lifetime. In addition, they require real-time guarantees. The most suitable technological solution for those devices consists of using hybrid processors able to operate at: (i) high voltage to provide high performance and (ii) near-/sub-threshold (NST) voltage to provide ultra-low energy consumption. However, the most efficient SRAM memories for each voltage level differ and it is mandatory trading off different SRAM designs, especially in cache memories, which occupy most of the processor¿s area.
In this Thesis, we analyze the performance/power tradeoffs involved in the design of SRAM L1 caches for reliable hybrid high and NST Vcc operation from a microarchitectural perspective. We develop new, simple, single-Vcc domain hybrid cache architectures and data management mechanisms that satisfy all stringent needs of our target market. Proposed solutions are shown to have high energy efficiency with negligible impact on average performance while maintaining strong performance guarantees as required for our target market.
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