Probabilistic design methodology to improve run-time stability and performance of STT-RAM caches

TitleProbabilistic design methodology to improve run-time stability and performance of STT-RAM caches
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsX Bi, Z Sun, H Li, and W Wu
Conference NameIeee/Acm International Conference on Computer Aided Design, Digest of Technical Papers, Iccad
Date Published01/2012

Using the spin-transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM) technology as lower level on-chip caches has been proposed to minimize leakage power consumption and enhance cache capacity at the scaled technologies. However, programming STT-RAM is a stochastic process due to the random thermal fluctuations. Conventional worst-case (corner) design with a fixed write pulse period cannot completely eliminate the write failures but maintain it at a low level by paying high cost in hardware complexity and system performance. In this work, we systematically study the impacts of the stochastic switching of STT-RAM on circuit and cache performance. Two probabilistic design techniques, write-verify-rewrite with adaptive period (WRAP) and verify-one-while-writing (VOW), then are proposed for performance improvement and write failure reduction. Our simulation results show that compared to the result of the conventional design using Hamming Code to correct the write failures, WRAP is write error free while reducing the cache write latency and energy consumption by 40% and 26%, respectively. When an extremely low write failure rate (i.e., 10-22) is allowed, VOW can further boost the reductions on write latency and energy to 52% and 29%, respectively. Furthermore, a hybrid STT-RAM based cache hierarchy taking advantages of probabilistic design techniques is proposed. The novel hierarchy can reduce the write failure rate of STT-RAM cache to 10-30, while improving the speed by 6.8% and saving 15% of energy consumption compared to a conventional design with Hamming Code. © 2012 ACM.