Z-RAM

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Z-RAM is a tradename of a now-obsolete dynamic random-access memory technology that did not require a capacitor to maintain its state. Z-RAM was developed between 2002 and 2010 by a now-defunct [1] company named Innovative Silicon.

Z-RAM relies on the floating body effect, [2] an artifact of the silicon on insulator (SOI) process which places transistors in isolated tubs (the transistor body voltages "float" with respect to the wafer substrate beneath the tubs). The floating body effect causes a variable capacitance to appear between the bottom of the tub and the underlying substrate. The floating body effect is usually a parasitic effect that bedevils circuit designs, but also allows a DRAM-like cell to be built without adding a separate capacitor, the floating body effect then taking the place of the conventional capacitor. Because the capacitor is located under the transistor (instead of adjacent to, or above the transistor as in conventional DRAMs), another connotation of the name "Z-RAM" is that it extends in the negative z-direction.

Theoretically, a reduced cell size would have allowed denser storage, which in turn could (when used with large blocks) have improved access times by reducing the physical distance that data would have to travel to exit a block. [3] For a large cache memory (as typically found in a high-performance microprocessor), Z-RAM would then have been potentially as fast as the SRAM used for conventional on-processor (L1/L2) caches, but with lower surface area (and thus cost). However, with advances in manufacturing techniques for conventional SRAM (most importantly, the transition to 32nm fabrication node), Z-RAM lost its size advantage.

Although AMD licensed the second generation Z-RAM in 2006, [4] the processor manufacturer abandoned its Z-RAM plans in January 2010. [5] Similarly, DRAM producer Hynix had also licensed Z-RAM for use in DRAM chips in 2007, [6] and Innovative Silicon announced it was jointly developing a non-SOI version of Z-RAM that could be manufactured on lower cost bulk CMOS technology in March 2010, but Innovative Silicon closed on June 29, 2010. Its patent portfolio was acquired by Micron Technology in December 2010. [7]

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Static random-access memory Type of computer memory

Static random-access memory 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.

Dynamic random-access memory Type of computer memory

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.

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Random-access memory Form of computer data storage

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References

  1. "Company Overview of Innovative Silicon, Inc". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  2. "No-capacitor DRAM doubles memory density". Components in electronics. February 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  3. Chris Hall (2006-03-28). "The case for Z-RAM: Q&A with memory specialist Innovative Silicon" . DigiTimes.
  4. Clarke, Peter (2006-12-04). "Innovative Silicon revamps SOI memory, AMD likes it". EE Times . Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  5. "GlobalFoundries Outlines 22 nm Roadmap". Chinese Academy of Sciences. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  6. Yam, Marcus (2007-08-13). "Hynix Licenses ISi Z-RAM Technology for Future DRAM Chips". DailyTech . Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  7. Clarke, Peter (2011-05-13). "Micron gains as floating-body memory firm closes". EE Times. Retrieved 2015-06-29.