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Technical Report

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Since array structures represent well over half the area and transistors on-chip, maintaining their ability to scale is crucial for overall technology scaling. Shrinking transistor sizes are resulting in increased probabilities of single events causing single- and multi-bit upsets which require adoption of more complex and power hungry error detection and correction codes (ECC) in hardware. At the same time, SRAM leakage energy is increasing partly due to technology trends and partly due to the increasing number of transistors present.

This paper proposes and evaluates methods of reducing the static power requirements of caches, while also maintaining high reliability. In particular, we propose methods of applying reduced ECC techniques to data that has been identified (by programmer or compiler) as error-tolerant. This segregation, in turn, makes both the default data and the error-tolerant data more amenable to decay-based techniques for leakage control. We examine the potential of this split memory hierarchy along several dimensions. In particular, we consider the power and reliability issues inherent in the approach. Overall, we show that our approach allows the ECC requirements of future applications and caches to be met while also reducing leakage energy.


Copyright © 2009, Kelly Shaw and Margaret Martonosi, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.

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