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|Computer memory types|
|Early stage NVRAM|
Static random-access memory (static RAM or SRAM) is a type of semiconductor random-access memory (RAM) that uses bistable latching circuitry (flip-flop) to store each bit. SRAM exhibits data remanence,but it is still volatile in the conventional sense that data is eventually lost when the memory is not powered.
The term static differentiates SRAM from DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) which must be periodically refreshed. SRAM is faster and more expensive than DRAM; it is typically used for CPU cache while DRAM is used for a computer's main memory.
The power consumption of SRAM varies widely depending on how frequently it is accessed; in some instances, it can use as much power as dynamic RAM, when used at high frequencies, and some ICs can consume many watts at full bandwidth. On the other hand, static RAM used at a somewhat slower pace, such as in applications with moderately clocked microprocessors, draws very little power and can have a nearly negligible power consumption when sitting idle – in the region of a few micro-watts. Several techniques have been proposed to manage power consumption of SRAM-based memory structures.
Many categories of industrial and scientific subsystems, automotive electronics, and similar, contain static RAM. Some amount (kilobytes or less) is also embedded in practically all modern appliances, toys, etc. that implement an electronic user interface. Several megabytes may be used in complex products such as digital cameras, cell phones, synthesizers, etc.
SRAM in its dual-ported form is sometimes used for real-time digital signal processing circuits.
SRAM is also used in personal computers, workstations, routers and peripheral equipment: CPU register files, internal CPU caches and external burst mode SRAM caches, hard disk buffers, router buffers, etc. LCD screens and printers also normally employ static RAM to hold the image displayed (or to be printed). Static RAM was used for the main memory of some early personal computers such as the ZX80, TRS-80 Model 100 and Commodore VIC-20.
Hobbyists, specifically home-built processor enthusiasts, [ citation needed ] In addition to buses and power connections, SRAM usually requires only three controls: Chip Enable (CE), Write Enable (WE) and Output Enable (OE). In synchronous SRAM, Clock (CLK) is also included.[ citation needed ]often prefer SRAM due to the ease of interfacing. It is much easier to work with than DRAM as there are no refresh cycles and the address and data buses are directly accessible.
Non-volatile SRAMs, or nvSRAMs, have standard SRAM functionality, but they save the data when the power supply is lost, ensuring preservation of critical information. nvSRAMs are used in a wide range of situations –networking, aerospace, and medical, among many others –where the preservation of data is critical and where batteries are impractical.
PSRAMs have a DRAM storage core, combined with a self refresh circuit.They appear externally as a slower SRAM. They have a density/cost advantage over true SRAM, without the access complexity of DRAM.
In 1990s, asynchronous SRAM used to be employed for fast access time. Asynchronous SRAM was used as main memory for small cache-less embedded processors used in everything from industrial electronics and measurement systems to hard disks and networking equipment, among many other applications. Nowadays, synchronous SRAM (e.g. DDR SRAM) is rather employed similarly like Synchronous DRAM – DDR SDRAM memory is rather used than asynchronous DRAM. Synchronous memory interface is much faster as access time can be significantly reduced by employing pipeline architecture. Furthermore, as DRAM is much cheaper than SRAM, SRAM is often replaced by DRAM, especially in the case when large volume of data is required. SRAM memory is however much faster for random (not block / burst) access. Therefore, SRAM memory is mainly used for CPU cache, small on-chip memory, FIFOs or other small buffers.
A typical SRAM cell is made up of six MOSFETs. Each bit in an SRAM is stored on four transistors (M1, M2, M3, M4) that form two cross-coupled inverters. This storage cell has two stable states which are used to denote 0 and 1. Two additional access transistors serve to control the access to a storage cell during read and write operations. In addition to such six-transistor (6T) SRAM, other kinds of SRAM chips use 4, 8, 10 (4T, 8T, 10T SRAM), or more transistors per bit.Four-transistor SRAM is quite common in stand-alone SRAM devices (as opposed to SRAM used for CPU caches), implemented in special processes with an extra layer of polysilicon, allowing for very high-resistance pull-up resistors. The principal drawback of using 4T SRAM is increased static power due to the constant current flow through one of the pull-down transistors.
This is sometimes used to implement more than one (read and/or write) port, which may be useful in certain types of video memory and register files implemented with multi-ported SRAM circuitry.
Generally, the fewer transistors needed per cell, the smaller each cell can be. Since the cost of processing a silicon wafer is relatively fixed, using smaller cells and so packing more bits on one wafer reduces the cost per bit of memory.
Memory cells that use fewer than four transistors are possible – but, such 3T or 1T cells are DRAM, not SRAM (even the so-called 1T-SRAM).
Access to the cell is enabled by the word line (WL in figure) which controls the two access transistors M5 and M6 which, in turn, control whether the cell should be connected to the bit lines: BL and BL. They are used to transfer data for both read and write operations. Although it is not strictly necessary to have two bit lines, both the signal and its inverse are typically provided in order to improve noise margins.
During read accesses, the bit lines are actively driven high and low by the inverters in the SRAM cell. This improves SRAM bandwidth compared to DRAMs – in a DRAM, the bit line is connected to storage capacitors and charge sharing causes the bit line to swing upwards or downwards. The symmetric structure of SRAMs also allows for differential signaling, which makes small voltage swings more easily detectable. Another difference with DRAM that contributes to making SRAM faster is that commercial chips accept all address bits at a time. By comparison, commodity DRAMs have the address multiplexed in two halves, i.e. higher bits followed by lower bits, over the same package pins in order to keep their size and cost down.
The size of an SRAM with m address lines and n data lines is 2m words, or 2m × n bits. The most common word size is 8 bits, meaning that a single byte can be read or written to each of 2m different words within the SRAM chip. Several common SRAM chips have 11 address lines (thus a capacity of 2m = 2,048 = 3d words) and an 8-bit word, so they are referred to as "2k × 8 SRAM".
An SRAM cell has three different states: standby (the circuit is idle), reading (the data has been requested) or writing (updating the contents). SRAM operating in read mode and write modes should have "readability" and "write stability", respectively. The three different states work as follows:
If the word line is not asserted, the access transistors M5 and M6 disconnect the cell from the bit lines. The two cross-coupled inverters formed by M1 –M4 will continue to reinforce each other as long as they are connected to the supply.
In theory, reading only requires asserting the word line WL and reading the SRAM cell state by a single access transistor and bit line, e.g. M6, BL. However, bit lines are relatively long and have large parasitic capacitance. To speed up reading, a more complex process is used in practice: The read cycle is started by precharging both bit lines BL and BL, to high (logic 1) voltage. Then asserting the word line WL enables both the access transistors M5 and M6, which causes one bit line BL voltage to slightly drop. Then the BL and BL lines will have a small voltage difference between them. A sense amplifier will sense which line has the higher voltage and thus determine whether there was 1 or 0 stored. The higher the sensitivity of the sense amplifier, the faster the read operation. As the NMOS is more powerful, the pull-down is easier. Therefore, bit lines are traditionally precharged to high voltage. Many researchers are also trying to precharge at a slightly low voltage to reduce the power consumption.
The write cycle begins by applying the value to be written to the bit lines. If we wish to write a 0, we would apply a 0 to the bit lines, i.e. setting BL to 1 and BL to 0. This is similar to applying a reset pulse to an SR-latch, which causes the flip flop to change state. A 1 is written by inverting the values of the bit lines. WL is then asserted and the value that is to be stored is latched in. This works because the bit line input-drivers are designed to be much stronger than the relatively weak transistors in the cell itself so they can easily override the previous state of the cross-coupled inverters. In practice, access NMOS transistors M5 and M6 have to be stronger than either bottom NMOS (M1, M3) or top PMOS (M2, M4) transistors. This is easily obtained as PMOS transistors are much weaker than NMOS when same sized. Consequently, when one transistor pair (e.g. M3 and M4) is only slightly overridden by the write process, the opposite transistors pair (M1 and M2) gate voltage is also changed. This means that the M1 and M2 transistors can be easier overridden, and so on. Thus, cross-coupled inverters magnify the writing process.
RAM with an access time of 70 ns will output valid data within 70 ns from the time that the address lines are valid. But the data will remain for a hold time as well (5–10 ns). Rise and fall times also influence valid timeslots with approximately 5 ns. By reading the lower part of an address range, bits in sequence (page cycle) one can read with significantly shorter access time (30 ns).
In computing, memory refers to a device that is used to store information for immediate use in a computer or related computer hardware device. It typically refers to semiconductor memory, specifically metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) memory, where data is stored within MOS memory cells on a silicon integrated circuit chip. The term "memory" is often synonymous with the term "primary storage". Computer memory operates at a high speed, for example random-access memory (RAM), as a distinction from storage that provides slow-to-access information but offers higher capacities. If needed, contents of the computer memory can be transferred to secondary storage; a very common way of doing this is through a memory management technique called "virtual memory". An archaic synonym for memory is store.
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) is a type of random access semiconductor memory that stores each bit of data in a memory cell consisting of a tiny capacitor and a transistor, both typically based on metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology. The capacitor can either be charged or discharged; these two states are taken to represent the two values of a bit, conventionally called 0 and 1. The electric charge on the capacitors slowly leaks off, so without intervention the data on the chip would soon be lost. To prevent this, DRAM requires an external memory refresh circuit which periodically rewrites the data in the capacitors, restoring them to their original charge. This refresh process is the defining characteristic of dynamic random-access memory, in contrast to static random-access memory (SRAM) which does not require data to be refreshed. Unlike flash memory, DRAM is volatile memory, since it loses its data quickly when power is removed. However, DRAM does exhibit limited data remanence.
Synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) is any dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) where the operation of its external pin interface is coordinated by an externally supplied clock signal.
Non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) is random-access memory that is non-volatile. This is in contrast to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and static random-access memory (SRAM), which both maintain data only for as long as power is applied.
Magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) is a type of non-volatile random-access memory which stores data in magnetic domains. Developed in the mid-1980s, proponents have argued that magnetoresistive RAM will eventually surpass competing technologies to become a dominant or even universal memory. Presently, other memory technologies such as flash RAM and DRAM have practical advantages that have so far kept MRAM in a niche role in the market. It is currently in production by Everspin Technologies, and other companies, including GlobalFoundries and Samsung, have announced in 2016 product plans. A recent, comprehensive review article on magnetoresistance and magnetic random access memories is available as an open access paper in Materials Today.
Nano-RAM is a proprietary computer memory technology from the company Nantero. It is a type of nonvolatile random access memory based on the position of carbon nanotubes deposited on a chip-like substrate. In theory, the small size of the nanotubes allows for very high density memories. Nantero also refers to it as NRAM.
Volatile memory, in contrast to non-volatile memory, is computer memory that requires power to maintain the stored information; it retains its contents while powered on but when the power is interrupted, the stored data is quickly lost.
Semiconductor memory is a digital electronic semiconductor device used for digital data storage, such as computer memory. It typically refers to MOS memory, where data is stored within metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) memory cells on a silicon integrated circuit memory chip. There are numerous different types using different semiconductor technologies. The two main types of random-access memory (RAM) are static RAM (SRAM), which uses several transistors per memory cell, and dynamic RAM (DRAM), which uses a single transistor and MOS capacitor per cell. Non-volatile memory uses floating-gate memory cells, which consist of a single transistor per cell.
Column Access Strobe (CAS) latency, or CL, is the delay time between the READ command and the moment data is available. In asynchronous DRAM, the interval is specified in nanoseconds. In synchronous DRAM, the interval is specified in clock cycles. Because the latency is dependent upon a number of clock ticks instead of absolute time, the actual time for an SDRAM module to respond to a CAS event might vary between uses of the same module if the clock rate differs.
XDR DRAM or extreme data rate dynamic random-access memory is a high-performance RAM interface and successor to the Rambus RDRAM it is based on, competing with the rival DDR2 SDRAM and GDDR4 technology.
1T-SRAM is a pseudo-static random-access memory (PSRAM) technology introduced by MoSys, Inc., which offers a high-density alternative to traditional static random access memory (SRAM) in embedded memory applications. Mosys uses a single-transistor storage cell like dynamic random access memory (DRAM), but surrounds the bit cell with control circuitry that makes the memory functionally equivalent to SRAM. 1T-SRAM has a standard single-cycle SRAM interface and appears to the surrounding logic just as an SRAM would.
Ferroelectric RAM is a random-access memory similar in construction to DRAM but using a ferroelectric layer instead of a dielectric layer to achieve non-volatility. FeRAM is one of a growing number of alternative non-volatile random-access memory technologies that offer the same functionality as flash memory.
Memory refresh is the process of periodically reading information from an area of computer memory and immediately rewriting the read information to the same area without modification, for the purpose of preserving the information. Memory refresh is a background maintenance process required during the operation of semiconductor dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), the most widely used type of computer memory, and in fact is the defining characteristic of this class of memory.
The CVAX is a microprocessor chip set developed and fabricated by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) that implemented the VAX instruction set architecture (ISA). The chip set consisted of the CVAX 78034 CPU, CFPA floating-point accelerator, CVAX clock chip, and the associated support chips, the CVAX System Support Chip (CSSC), CVAX Memory Controller (CMCTL), and CVAX Q-Bus Interface Chip (CQBIC).
The memory controller is a digital circuit that manages the flow of data going to and from the computer's main memory. A memory controller can be a separate chip or integrated into another chip, such as being placed on the same die or as an integral part of a microprocessor; in the latter case, it is usually called an integrated memory controller (IMC). A memory controller is sometimes also called a memory chip controller (MCC) or a memory controller unit (MCU).
Random-access memory is a form of computer memory that can be read and changed in any order, typically used to store working data and machine code. A random-access memory device allows data items to be read or written in almost the same amount of time irrespective of the physical location of data inside the memory. In contrast, with other direct-access data storage media such as hard disks, CD-RWs, DVD-RWs and the older magnetic tapes and drum memory, the time required to read and write data items varies significantly depending on their physical locations on the recording medium, due to mechanical limitations such as media rotation speeds and arm movement.
Low-Power Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory, commonly abbreviated as Low-Power DDR SDRAM or LPDDR SDRAM, is a type of double data rate synchronous dynamic random-access memory that consumes less power and is targeted for mobile computers. It is also known as Mobile DDR, and abbreviated as mDDR.
This is a glossary of terms relating to computer hardware – physical computer hardware, architectural issues, and peripherals.
In modern computer memory, a sense amplifier is one of the elements which make up the circuitry on a semiconductor memory chip ; the term itself dates back to the era of magnetic core memory. A sense amplifier is part of the read circuitry that is used when data is read from the memory; its role is to sense the low power signals from a bitline that represents a data bit stored in a memory cell, and amplify the small voltage swing to recognizable logic levels so the data can be interpreted properly by logic outside the memory.
The memory cell is the fundamental building block of computer memory. The memory cell is an electronic circuit that stores one bit of binary information and it must be set to store a logic 1 and reset to store a logic 0. Its value is maintained/stored until it is changed by the set/reset process. The value in the memory cell can be accessed by reading it.