Semiconductor memory is a key component of the computing systems. Beyond the conventional memory and data storage applications, in this dissertation, both mainstream and eNVM memory technologies are explored for radiation environment, hardware security system and machine learning applications.
In the radiation environment, e.g. aerospace, the memory devices face different energetic particles. The strike of these energetic particles can generate electron-hole pairs (directly or indirectly) as they pass through the semiconductor device, resulting in photo-induced current, and may change the memory state. First, the trend of radiation effects of the mainstream memory technologies with technology node scaling is reviewed. Then, single event effects of the oxide based resistive switching random memory (RRAM), one of eNVM technologies, is investigated from the circuit-level to the system level.
Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) has been widely investigated as a promising hardware security primitive, which employs the inherent randomness in a physical system (e.g. the intrinsic semiconductor manufacturing variability). In the dissertation, two RRAM-based PUF implementations are proposed for cryptographic key generation (weak PUF) and device authentication (strong PUF), respectively. The performance of the RRAM PUFs are evaluated with experiment and simulation. The impact of non-ideal circuit effects on the performance of the PUFs is also investigated and optimization strategies are proposed to solve the non-ideal effects. Besides, the security resistance against modeling and machine learning attacks is analyzed as well.
Deep neural networks (DNNs) have shown remarkable improvements in various intelligent applications such as image classification, speech classification and object localization and detection. Increasing efforts have been devoted to develop hardware accelerators. In this dissertation, two types of compute-in-memory (CIM) based hardware accelerator designs with SRAM and eNVM technologies are proposed for two binary neural networks, i.e. hybrid BNN (HBNN) and XNOR-BNN, respectively, which are explored for the hardware resource-limited platforms, e.g. edge devices.. These designs feature with high the throughput, scalability, low latency and high energy efficiency. Finally, we have successfully taped-out and validated the proposed designs with SRAM technology in TSMC 65 nm.
Overall, this dissertation paves the paths for memory technologies’ new applications towards the secure and energy-efficient artificial intelligence system.