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Non-volatile memories (NVM) are widely used in modern electronic devices due to their non-volatility, low static power consumption and high storage density. While Flash memories are the dominant NVM technology, resistive memories such as phase change access memory (PRAM) and

Non-volatile memories (NVM) are widely used in modern electronic devices due to their non-volatility, low static power consumption and high storage density. While Flash memories are the dominant NVM technology, resistive memories such as phase change access memory (PRAM) and spin torque transfer random access memory (STT-MRAM) are gaining ground. All these technologies suffer from reliability degradation due to process variations, structural limits and material property shift. To address the reliability concerns of these NVM technologies, multi-level low cost solutions are proposed for each of them. My approach consists of first building a comprehensive error model. Next the error characteristics are exploited to develop low cost multi-level strategies to compensate for the errors. For instance, for NAND Flash memory, I first characterize errors due to threshold voltage variations as a function of the number of program/erase cycles. Next a flexible product code is designed to migrate to a stronger ECC scheme as program/erase cycles increases. An adaptive data refresh scheme is also proposed to improve memory reliability with low energy cost for applications with different data update frequencies. For PRAM, soft errors and hard errors models are built based on shifts in the resistance distributions. Next I developed a multi-level error control approach involving bit interleaving and subblock flipping at the architecture level, threshold resistance tuning at the circuit level and programming current profile tuning at the device level. This approach helped reduce the error rate significantly so that it was now sufficient to use a low cost ECC scheme to satisfy the memory reliability constraint. I also studied the reliability of a PRAM+DRAM hybrid memory system and analyzed the tradeoffs between memory performance, programming energy and lifetime. For STT-MRAM, I first developed an error model based on process variations. I developed a multi-level approach to reduce the error rates that consisted of increasing the W/L ratio of the access transistor, increasing the voltage difference across the memory cell and adjusting the current profile during write operation. This approach enabled use of a low cost BCH based ECC scheme to achieve very low block failure rates.

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    Title
    • Improving the reliability of NAND Flash, phase-change RAM and spin-torque transfer RAM
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    Date Created
    2014
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    by Chengen Yang

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