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8

SRAM TECHNOLOGY

Overview An SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) is designed to fill two needs: to provide a direct interface with the CPU at speeds not attainable by DRAMs, and to replace DRAMs in systems that require very low power consumption. In the first role, the SRAM provides cache memory, interfacing between DRAMs and the CPU. An SRAM can be accessed in as little as a few nanoseconds (ns), versus 50ns to 80ns for a DRAM. The second application -- low power -- is found in most portable equipment where the DRAM refresh current is several orders of magnitude more than the low-power SRAM standby current. In the low-power parts, the access time is comparable to a DRAM. How the Device Works The SRAM cell consists of a bi-stable flip flop connected to two access transistors (Figure 8-1) . The data is latched into the flip flop.

Word Line

B

B

To Sense Amplifier

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

20019

Figure 8-1. SRAM Cell

The data in an SRAM cell is volatile, (i.e., the data is lost when the power is removed). However, the data does not "leak away" like in a DRAM, so the SRAM does not require a refresh cycle.

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8-1

SRAM Technology

Figure 8-2 shows the read/write operations of an SRAM. To select a cell, the word line is set to Vcc (X address). The B and B (bit lines) are connected to the sense amplifier or the write circuitry (depending on whether the device is in a read or a write mode) by the column decode transistors (Y address). In a read mode, the cell data is applied to the sense amplifier that recognizes the data (voltage comparator). In a write mode, the write circuitry forces the data onto the cell as the write circuitry drivers are stronger than the cell flip flop transistors.

Word Line

Word Line

Column Decode

Column Decode

Sense Amplifier (Voltage Comparator) Write Circuitry D Out D In READ OPERATION

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

WRITE OPERATION

19952

Figure 8-2. Read/Write Operations

MEMORY CELL 4T Cell The most common SRAM cell consists of four transistors and two poly-load resistors (Figure 8-3). This design is called the 4T cell SRAM. The storage cell of a 4T cell SRAM is about four times as large as the cell of a comparable generation DRAM and contains four transistors.

8-2

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SRAM Technology

W +V

B To Sense Amps

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

B

18470A

Figure 8-3. SRAM 4T (Four-Transistor) Cell

4T cells have several limitations: · Each cell has a current flowing in one resistor, i.e., high standby current. · The cell is sensitive to noise and soft error rate because the resistors are so large. · The cell is not the fastest cell design available. 6T Cell A different cell design that eliminates these limitations is the 6T cell. This SRAM cell is composed of six transistors, two NMOS and two PMOS transistors connected as a flip flop, and two NMOS access transistors. This structure is shown in Figure 8-4. It offers better performance (speed, noise immunity, standby current) than a 4T structure. These devices are used when extremely low power consumption is mandatory, such as in palm top computers operating from AA batteries. TFT (Thin Film Transistor) Cell A mix of the 4T cell and the 6T cell structures has been developed. The load is formed by using polysilicon as a PMOS device. This PMOS transistor is called a Thin Film Transistor (TFT), and it is formed by depositing several layers of polysilicon above the silicon surface.

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SRAM Technology

W +V

B To Sense Amps

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

B

18471A

Figure 8-4. SRAM 6T (Six-Transistor) Cell

The performance of this TFT PMOS transistor is not as good as a standard PMOS silicon transistor used in a 6T cell. It is more realistically compared to the linear polysilicon resistor characteristics, as TFT cell technology is more an improvement and replacement of the 4T technology than the 6T technology. Process and cell size are closer to a 4T cell technology than a 6T cell technology because the area of the TFT transistors is above the NMOS transistors. Figure 8-5 shows the TFT characteristics. In actual use, the effective resistance would range from about 11 x 1013 to 5 x 109. Figure 8-6 shows the TFT cell schematic.

­10­6 Vd = ­4V

Drain Current, Id (A)

­10­8 Vg

­10­10

­10­12

Tox = 25nm Tpoly = 38nm L/W = 1.6/0.6µm 2 0 ­2 ­4 Gate Voltage, Vg (V) ­6 ­8

19953

Source: Hitachi

Figure 8-5. TFT (Thin Film Transistor) Characteristics

8-4

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SRAM Technology

Word Line Poly-Si PMOS

BL

BL

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

19954

Figure 8-6. SRAM TFT (Thin Film Transistor) Cell

Figure 8-7 shows a cross section drawing of the TFT cell. The TFT technology requires the deposition of two more films and at least three more photolithography steps.

1st Metal (BIT Line) 3rd Poly-Si (Channel of TFT) 4th Poly-Si (Internal Connection)

2nd Poly-Si (Gate Electrode of TFT)

Contact (W-Plug)

2nd Direct Contact

Isolation N+ N+ Diffusion Region (GND Line) N+ Driver Transistor TiSi2 N+ Access Transistor N+

1st Poly-Si (Gate Electrode of Bulk Transistor)

Source: IEDM 91

18749

Figure 8-7. Cross Section of TFT SRAM Cell

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SRAM Technology

Cell Size and Die Size SRAM performance targets have a dramatic effect on cell size. Figure 8-8 shows cell sizes and other characteristics of SRAM parts analyzed in ICE's laboratory in 1995. None of the devices analyzed made use of thin-film-transistor (TFT ) pullups. Each supplier used the standard 4T cell using resistive pullups. It is interesting to note that the die size of the only 4Mbit part (Toshiba's CMOS SRAM datecoded 9509) was larger than an NEC 4Mbit SRAM die analyzed in 1994. In fact, Toshiba's 4Mbit cell size is actually larger than the cache SRAM on Intel's Pentium microprocessor.

GALVANTECH SAMSUNG TOSHIBA GVT7132C32Q7 KM732V588 TC554161FTL-70L 1Mb (x32) 1995 1Mb (x32) 9524 4Mb (x16) 9509 Technology Die Size Min Gate - (N) Cell Pitch Cell Area Cell Type VCC Access Time CMOS 7.7 x 18.7mm (144mm2) 0.65µm 3.7 x 6µm 22µm2 4T 5V 70ns BiCMOS 5 x 6.6mm (33mm2) 0.5µm 3.0 x 4.75µm 14.25µm2 4T 3.3V -- CMOS 4.5 x 6.8mm (31mm2) 0.4µm 3.4 x 4.9µm 16.5µm2 4T 3.3V 7ns

MOTOROLA NEC HITACHI HM67W1664JP-12 D461018LG5-A12 MCM67C618FN7 1Mb (x18) 9443 1Mb (x18) 9436 1Mb (x16) 9539 BiCMOS 6.4 x 10.1mm (64mm2) 0.45µm 3.3 x 5.7µm 19µm2 4T 3.3V 12ns BiCMOS 5.7 x 11.7mm (67mm2) 0.6µm 3.5 x 5.5µm 19µm2 4T 3.3V 12ns BiCMOS 9.2 x 11.8mm (108mm2) 0.6µm 4.9 x 8.2µm 40µm2 4T 5V 7ns

20859

Source: ICE, "1996 Successful Technologies Review"

Figur 8-8. Physical Geometries of SRAMs

Figure 8-9 shows the trends of the SRAM cell size. There is a tradeoff between the performance of the cell and the process complexity. Most manufacturers believe that the TFT-cell SRAM manufacturing process is too difficult, regardless of its advantages. The 6T cell gives a better performance but has a much larger cell size. This cell will only be used in high performance and ultra low-power SRAMs. As we will see in Section 13 (embedded memories), the 6T cell is very common for microprocessor or on-chip cache applications. The design offers extremely high performance and the process is virtually identical to the microprocessor process. Cell size remains an issue, however, so some microprocessor manufacturers utilize the 4T cell. Figure 8-10 shows the field applications of SRAMs.

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SRAM Technology

1,000

100 Cell Size (µm2) 6T Cell

10 4T (and TFT) Cell

1 1 Micron

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

0.8 Micron

0.5-0.6 Micron

0.35 Micron

0.25 Micron

19989

Technology

Figure 8-9. Trend of SRAM Cell Sizes

Magnetic Memory External Memory DRAM DRAM SRAM Disk Cache x1, x4 L Version Notebook PC will use SRAM

Main Memory

Fast MOS SRAM 15~35ns ECL SRAM 10~15ns

Trend to use SRAM for main memory 15~45ns x1, x4

MOS DRAM

Slow MOS SRAM 55~150ns x8

SDRAM CDRAM 32-bit/64-bit PC have cache 15~25ns x8 asyn. x32 sync. burst

Cache Memory

ECL RAM 3~10ns

Fast MOS SRAM 10~20ns x4, x8, x9, x16, x18

Super Computer

Source: Mitsubishi

Main Frame

Super Mini-Com

MiniComputer

Work Station

Personal Computer

OA

Small Machine

15543B

Figure 8-10. Application of DRAM/SRAM

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SRAM Technology

CONFIGURATION The SRAM can be classified in three main categories: ·Asynchronous SRAMs Low speed and high Speed ·Synchronous SRAMs Standard and pipelined ·Special SRAMs Cache Tag, FIFO, and Multiports Figure 8-11 shows the SRAM classification.

SRAMs

Asynchronous

Synchronous

Special

Low Speed

High Speed

Standard

Pipelined

Multiport

FIFO

Cache Tag

20860

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

Figure 8-11. Overview of SRAM Types

Asynchronous SRAMs Figure 8-12 shows a functional block diagram of an asynchronous SRAM. The memory is controlled by three clocks: - Chip Select (CS) that selects or de-selects the chip. When the chip is deselected, the part is stand-by mode (minimum current consumption) and the outputs are in a high impedance state. - Output Enable (OE) that controls the outputs (valid data or high impedance). - Write Enable (WE) that allows a read or a write cycle.

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SRAM Technology

A0 Address Decoder A14 262, 144 Bit Memory Array

VCC GND

I/O0 Input Data Circuit

I/O Control

I/O7

CS OE WE

Source: IDT

Control Circuit

20861

Figure 8-12. Functional Block Diagram of a Standard SRAM

Low-Speed SRAM Low-speed SRAM devices offer low power and low cost. The main applications are high density hard disk drive (HDD) and industrial control systems. The speed of these devices is greater than 55ns.

High-Speed SRAM Definitions vary, but high-speed SRAM devices have access time generally ranging from 35ns to 15ns. Applications are local storage in telecommunications systems and cache memory in computer systems. Synchronous SRAM As computer system clocks have increased, the demand for very fast SRAMs has necessitated variations on the standard asynchronous fast SRAM. The result is the synchronous SRAM (SSRAM). Synchronous SRAMs have their read or write cycles synchronized with the microprocessor clock and therefore can be used in very high speed applications. An important growing application is the cache SRAM used in Pentium- or PowerPC-based PCs and workstations.

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SRAM Technology

Figure 8-13 shows the configuration of an SSRAM. The RAM array, which forms the heart of an asynchronous SRAM, is also found in SSRAM. Since the operations take place on the rising edge of the clock signal, it is unecessary to hold the address and write data state throughout the entire cycle.

Data Register

D Address Clock A RAM Array Q Data Address Register

W WE Register WE

Source: Electronic Design

Write Pulse Generator

20862

Figure 8-13. Configuration of a Synchronous SRAM

Burst Mode The SSRAM can be addressed in burst mode for faster speed. In burst mode, the address for the first data is placed on the address bus. The three following data blocks are addressed by an internal built-in counter. Data is available at the microprocessor clock rate. These devices are offered in a wide word organization such as a 1Mbit device in a 32Kbit x 32 organization. Figure 8-14 shows SSRAM timing.

8-10

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SRAM Technology

SYNCHRONOUS MODE CLOCK

Address Output

BURST MODE

Address

Output

Source: ICE, "Memory 1996"

19955A

Figure 8-14. SSRAM Timing

Pipelined SRAMs Pipelined SRAMs (sometimes called Register to Register mode SRAMs) add a register between the memory array and the output. Pipelined SRAMs are less expensive than standard SRAMs for equivalent electrical performances. The pipelined design does not require the aggressive manufacturing process of a standard SRAM, which contributes to its better overall yield. Figure 8-15 shows a burst timing for both pipelined and standard SRAMs. With the pipelined SRAM, a four-word burst read takes five clock cycles. With a standard synchronous SRAM, the same four-word burst read takes four clock cycles. Figure 8-16 shows the SRAM performance comparison of these same products. Above 66 MHz, pipelined SRAMs have an advantage by allowing single-cycle access for burst cycles after the first read. However, pipelined SRAMs require a one-cycle delay when switching from reads to writes in order to prevent bus contention. Cache Tag RAMs The implementation of cache memory requires the use of special circuits that keep track of which data is in both the SRAM cache memory and the main memory (DRAM). This function acts like a directory that tells the CPU what is or is not in cache. The directory function can be designed with standard logic components plus small (and very fast)

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SRAM Technology

SRAM chips for the data storage. An alternative is the use of special memory chips called cache tag RAMs, which perform the entire function. Figure 8-17 shows both the cache tag RAM and the cache buffer RAM along with the main memory and the CPU (processor). As processor speeds increase, the demands on cache tag and buffer chips increase as well. Figure 8-18 shows the internal block diagram of a cache-tag SRAM.

Clock 1 Clock Address A

Clock 2

Clock3

Clock 4

Clock 5

A+1

A+2

A+3

Data

Data A

Data A+1

Data A+2

Data A+3

A 4-word burst read from pipelined SRAMs

Clock 1 Clock Address A

Clock 2

Clock3

Clock 4

Clock 5

A+1

A+2

A+3

Data

Data A

Data A+1

Data A+2

Data A+3

A 4-word burst read from synchronous SRAMs

Source: Electronic Design

20863

Figure 8-15. Pipelined Versus Non-Pipelined Timings

FIFO SRAMs A FIFO (First In, First Out) memory is a specialized memory used for temporary storage, which aids in the timing of non-synchronized events. A good example of this is the interface between a computer system and a Local Area Network (LAN). Figure 8-19 shows the interface between a computer system and a LAN using a FIFO memory to buffer the data. Synchronous and asynchronous FIFOs are available. Figures 8-20 and 8-21 shows the block diagrams of these two configurations. Asynchronous FIFOs encounter some problems when used in high speed systems. One problem is that the read and write clock signals must often be specially shaped to achieve high performance. Another problem is the asynchronous nature of the flags. A synchronous FIFO is made by combining an asynchronous FIFO with registers. For an equivalent level of technology, synchronous FIFOs will be faster.

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SRAM Technology

3.3V 32K x 8 Bus Frequency Speed Banks (ns) 50 60 66 75 83 100 125

Source: Micron

32K x 32 Pipelined Cycle Time 20 16.7 15 13.3 12 10 8 Performance Read 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 3-1-1-1 Write 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1

32K x 32 Non-Pipelined Access Cycle Time Time 12 10 9 9 9 9 9 20 16.7 15 13.3 12 10 8 Performance Read 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 Write 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2

20864

Performance Read 3-2-2-2 3-3-3-3 3-2-2-2 3-3-3-3 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 3-2-2-2 Write 4-2-2-2 4-3-3-3 4-2-2-2 4-4-4-4 4-2-2-2 4-2-2-2 4-2-2-2 4-2-2-2 4-2-2-2

20 15 12 15 15 12 10 8

1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2

Figure 8-16. SRAM Performance Comparison

Data Bus

Processor Cache Buffer RAM

Main Memory

Address Bus

Cache Tag RAM

Source: TI

18472

Figure 8-17. Typical Memory System With Cache

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8-13

SRAM Technology

A0 Address Decoder A12 RESET I/O0-7 8 I/O Control 65,356-Bit Memory Array

VCC GND

WE OE CS Control Logic

Comparator

Match (Open Drain)

Source: IDT

20865

Figure 8-18. Block Diagram of Cache-Tag SRAM

Microprocessor

LAN System Bus Disk Drive

FIFO

Memory

Source: IDT

18804

Figure 8-19. FIFO Memory Solutions for File Servers

8-14

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SRAM Technology

Write Data

Write Clock Write Enable

Write Address Counter Write Latch

Write Data Register

FF Write Pulse Gen Full Dual Port RAM Array 4096 Words x 18 Bits Flag Logic FF Empty

Read Enable Read Clock

Read Address Counter

Read Data Register

Source: Paradigm

Read Data

20866

Figure 8-20. Synchronous FIFO Block Diagram

Write Data Write Clock Write Counter Inhibit

Full Dual Port RAM Array 4096 Words x 18 Bits Flag Logic Empty

Read Clock

Read Counter

Inhibit

Read Data

Source: Paradigm

20867

Figure 8-21. Asychronous FIFO Block Diagram

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8-15

SRAM Technology

Multiport SRAMs Multiport fast SRAM (usually two port, but sometimes four port) memories are specially designed chips using fast SRAM memory cells, but with special on-chip circuitry that allows multiple ports (paths) to access the same data at the same time. Figure 8-22 shows such an application with four CPUs sharing a single memory. Each cell in the memory uses an additional six transistors to allow the four CPUs to access the data, (i.e., a 10T cell in place of a 4T cell). Figure 8-23 shows the block diagram of a 4-port SRAM.

CPU #1

CPU #2

4-Port SRAM

CPU #3

CPU #4

Source: IDT

18805

Figure 8-22. Shared Memory Using 4-Port SRAM

RELIABILITY CONCERNS SRAMs are susceptible to alpha particle radiation. As designs have reduced the load currents in the 4T cell structures by raising the value of the load resistance, the energy required to switch the cell to the opposite state (soft error) has been reduced. This, in turn, has made the devices more sensitive to radiation. The TFT cell reduces this susceptibility, as the active load has a low resistance when the TFT is "on," and a much higher resistance when the TFT is "off." Due to process complexity, the TFT design is not widely used today.

8-16

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SRAM Technology

R/WP1 CEP1 OEP1 I/O0P1-I/O7P1 Column I/O Column I/O

R/WP4 CEP4 OEP4 I/O0P4-I/O7P4

A0P1-A11P1

Port 1 Address Decode Logic Memory Array Port 2 Address Decode Logic

Port 4 Address Decode Logic

A0P4-A11P4

A0P2-A11P2

Port 3 Address Decode Logic

A0P3-A11P3

I/O0P2-I/O7P2 OEP2 CEP2 R/WP2

Source: IDT

Column I/O

Column I/O

I/O0P3-I/O7P3 OEP3 CEP3 R/WP3

20868

Figure 8-23. Block Diagram of a 4-Port DRAM

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8-17

Information

Section 8 SRAM Technology

17 pages

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