Chapter 11: Towards Terabit Memories
Memories have been the major yardstick for the continuing validity of Moore’s law.
In single-transistor-per-Bit dynamic random-access memories (DRAM), the number of bits per chip pretty much gives us the number of transistors. For decades, DRAM’s have offered the largest storage capacity per chip. However, DRAM does not scale any longer, both in density and voltage, severely limiting its power efficiency to 10 fJ/b. A differential DRAM would gain four-times in density and eight-times in energy. Static CMOS RAM (SRAM) with its six transistors/cell is gaining in reputation because it scales well in cell size and operating voltage so that its fundamental advantages of speed, non-destructive read-out and low-power standby could lead to just 2.5 electrons/bit in standby and to a dynamic power efficiency of 2aJ/b. With a projected 2020 density of 16 Gb/cm², the SRAM would be as dense as normal DRAM and vastly better in power efficiency, which would mean a major change in the architecture and market scenario for DRAM versus SRAM.
Non-volatile Flash memories have seen two quantum jumps in density well beyond the roadmap: Multi-bit storage per transistor and high-density TSV (through-silicon via) technology. The number of electrons required per Bit on the storage gate has been reduced since their first realization in 1996 by more than an order of magnitude to 400 electrons/Bit in 2010 for a complexity of 32Gbit per chip at the 32 nm node. Chip stacking of eight chips with TSV has produced a 32GByte solid-state drive (SSD). A stack of 32 chips with 2 b/cell at the 16 nm node will reach a density of 2.5 Terabit/cm².
Non-volatile memory with a density of 10 x10 nm²/Bit is the target for widespread development. Phase-change memory (PCM) and resistive memory (RRAM) lead in cell density, and they will reach 20 Gb/cm² in 2D and higher with 3D chip stacking. This is still almost an order-of-magnitude less than Flash. However, their read-out speed is ~10-times faster, with as yet little data on their energy/b.
As a readout memory with unparalleled retention and lifetime, the ROM with electron-beam direct-write-lithography (Chap. 8) should be considered for its projected 2D density of 250 Gb/cm², and a very small read energy of 0.1 mW/Gb/s. The lithography write-speed of 10 ms/Terabit makes this ROM a serious contentender for the optimum in nonvolatile, tamper-proof storage with infinite retention time.