DRG-Cache: A data retention gated-ground cache for low power

TitleDRG-Cache: A data retention gated-ground cache for low power
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsA Agarwal, H Li, and K Roy
Conference NameProceedings Design Automation Conference
Date Published01/2002

In this paper we propose a novel integrated circuit and architectural level technique to reduce leakage power consumption in high performance cache memories using single Vt (transistor threshold voltage) process. We utilize the concept of Gated-Ground (NMOS transistor inserted between Ground line and SRAM cell) to achieve reduction in leakage energy without significantly affecting performance. Experimental results on gated-Ground caches show that data is retained (DRG-Cache) even if the memory are put in the stand-by mode of operation. Data is restored when the gated-Ground transistor is turned on. Turning off the gated-Ground transistor in turn gives large reduction in leakage power. This technique requires no extra circuitry; row decoder itself can be used to control the gated-Ground transistor. The technique is applicable to data and instruction caches as well as different levels of cache hierarchy such as the L1, L2, or L3 caches. We fabricated a test chip in TSMC 0.25 μ technology to show the data retention capability and the cell stability of DRG-cache. Our simulation results on 100 nm and 70 nm processes (Berkeley Predictive Technology Model) show 16.5% and 27% reduction in consumed energy in L1 cache and 50% and 47% reduction in L2 cache with less than 5% impact on execution time and within 4% increase in area overhead.