Low-Power Heterogeneous Graphene Nanoribbon-CMOS Multistate Volatile Memory Circuit

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ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems (JETC) , Special Issue on Advances in Design of Ultra-Low Power Circuits and Systems in Emerging Technologies

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pp. 15:1-15:18, August

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Graphene is an emerging nanomaterial believed to be a potential candidate for post-Si nanoelectronics, due to its exotic properties. Recently, a new graphene nanoribbon crossbar (xGNR) device was proposed which exhibits negative differential resistance (NDR). In this paper, a multi-state memory design is presented that can store multiple bits in a single cell enabled by this xGNR device, called Graphene Nanoribbon Tunneling Random Access Memory (GNTRAM). An approach to increase the number of bits per cell is explored alternative to physical scaling to overcome CMOS SRAM limitations. A comprehensive design for quaternary GNTRAM is presented as a baseline, implemented with a heterogeneous integration between graphene and CMOS. Sources of leakage and approaches to mitigate them are investigated. This design is extensively benchmarked against 16nm CMOS SRAMs and 3T DRAM. The proposed quaternary cell shows up to 2.27x density benefit vs. 16nm CMOS SRAMs and 1.8x vs. 3T DRAM. It has comparable read performance and is power-efficient, up to 1.32x during active period and 818x during stand-by against high performance SRAMs. Multi-state GNTRAM has the potential to realize high-density low-power nanoscale embedded memories. Further improvements may be possible by using graphene more extensively, as graphene transistors become available in future.