Among the different types of dynamic random-access memories (DRAMs), gain-cell embedded DRAM (GC-eDRAM) is a compact, low-power, and CMOS-compatible alternative to conventional static random-access memory (SRAM). GC-eDRAM achieves high memory density, as it relies on a storage cell that can be implemented with as few as two transistors and that can be fabricated without additional process steps. However, since the performance of GC-eDRAMs relies on many interdependent variables, the optimization of the performance of these memories for the integration into their hosting system, as well as the design investigation of future GC-eDRAMs, proves to be highly complex tasks. In this context, modeling tools of memories are key enablers for the exploration of this large design space in a short amount of time. In this article, we present GC-eDRAM modeling tool (GEMTOO), the first modeling tool that estimates timing, memory availability, bandwidth, and area of GC-eDRAMs. The tool considers parameters related to technology, circuits, and memory architecture, and it enables the evaluation of architectural transformations as well as advanced transistor-level effects, such as the increase in the access delay due to the deterioration of the stored data. The timing is estimated with a maximum deviation of 15% from postlayout simulations in a 28-nm FD-SOI technology for different memory sizes and architectures. Moreover, the measured random cycle frequency of a GC-eDRAM fabricated in a 28-nm CMOS bulk process is estimated with a 9% deviation when considering 6-sigma random process variations of the bitcells. The proposed GEMTOO modeling tool is used to show the intricacies in design optimization of GC-eDRAMs, and based on the results, optimal design practices are derived.
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Gain-Cell Embedded DRAMs: Modeling and Design Space