Modeling and Leveraging Emerging Non-Volatile Memories for Future Computer Designs

Open Access
Dong, Xiangyu
Graduate Program:
Computer Science and Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 31, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Yuan Xie, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Yuan Xie, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Mary Jane Irwin, Committee Member
  • Vijaykrishnan Narayanan, Committee Member
  • Suman Datta, Committee Member
  • Norman P Jouppi, Committee Member
  • application
  • architecture
  • circuit
  • non-volatile memory
  • ReRAM
Energy efficiency has become a major constraint in the design of computing systems today. As CMOS continues scaling down, traditional CMOS scaling theory requires to reduce supply and threshold voltages in proportion to device sizes, which exponentially increases the leakage. As a result, leakage power has become comparable to dynamic power in current-generation processes. Before leakage power becomes the dominant part in the power budget, disruptive emerging technologies are needed. Fortunately, many new types of non-volatile memory technologies are now evolving. For example, emerging non-volatile memories such as Spin-Torque-Transfer RAM (MRAM, STTRAM), Phase-Change RAM (PCRAM), and Resistive RAM (ReRAM) show their attractive properties of high access performance, low access energy, and high cell density. Therefore, it is promising to facilitate these emerging non-volatile memory technologies in designing future high-performance and low-power computing systems. However, since none of these new non-volatile memories is mature yet, academic research is necessary to demonstrate the usefulness of these technologies. In order to do that, this dissertation investigates three aspects of facilitating these emerging non-volatile memory technologies. First, a circuit-level performance, energy, and area models for various non-volatile memories is built. Second, several architecture-level techniques that mitigate the drawbacks in non-volatile memory write operations are proposed and evaluated. Third, application-level case studies of adopting these emerging technologies are conducted.