Analysis and Comparison of Leakage Reduction Techniques for 6T-SRAM and 5TSRAM in 90nm Technology

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTV1IS6119

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Analysis and Comparison of Leakage Reduction Techniques for 6T-SRAM and 5TSRAM in 90nm Technology

Analysis and Comparison of Leakage Reduction Techniques for 6T-SRAM and 5T- SRAM in 90nm Technology

Anupriya Jain

Abstract: As the feature size of the transistor is scaled down, the leakage power substantially increases. According to Moores law, number of transistors doubles in every eighteen months. This shows that in upcoming years, power dissipation would be one of the major factors. One of the major fields where leakage power is prominent is in memory. Memory used as bridging between processor and the main memory is known as cache memory as these are faster and keep a pace with the processor in retrieving the data because main memory is slow.

Keywords Leakage Power, 6T-SRAM (Static Random Access Memory), 5T-SRAM, MT-CMOS (Multi-Threshold Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor), Gated VDD, Dynamic Voltage Scaling.


    Memory is a basic element used for storing and retrieving data. Magnetic disks, optical disks are the examples of memory. The data is stored in memory in terms of logic 0 or logic 1, one bit at a time. Cluster of eight bits is called a byte and further grouping makes the hierarchy of mega and gigabytes.

    Memory is a sequential circuit which employs a latch for storing a bit. The array of memory makes hierarchy for storing several bytes of data. Memory is broadly categorized in two ways volatile and non-volatile. Volatile memory stores the data as long as power is present. RAM is the widest used example in volatile memory. Non-volatile memory is a kind of memory that stores the data even in the absence of power. ROM supports non-volatile memory.

    Read Only Memory (ROM)

    ROM is a read memory that retains the data when the power is turned OFF. Its key function in PC is to boot the system at the startup.

    Random Access Memory (RAM)

    RAM is the read write memory that retains the data as long as the power is supplied. RAM is used as the main memory for

    reading from the memory or writing into the memory through the address lines. RAM is of two types- SRAM and DRAM. Static RAM (SRAM)

    The static RAM uses latch as sequential circuits for storing the data. Unlike DRAM, it doesnt require any periodic refresh since latches retains the data. It is mostly used in cache as it has faster access time. It has low density for storing the data as it requires more number of transistors for storing single bit.

    Dynamic RAM (DRAM)

    Dynamic RAM comprises of a capacitor and a transistor for storing a bit. Since it employs a capacitor which is a major reason for not able to retain the data, it requires constant refreshing. In view of the fact that its storing density is more and has relatively more access time as compared to SRAM, it is mostly employed in main memory.

    Cache Memory

    Cache memory is placed between the main memory and the processor. As the main memory is slow and cannot keep a pace with the speed of the processor. In order to fetch the instructions readily from main memory caches are best at this place. SRAMs are used as cache memory as these are faster in accessing the data compared to DRAM since latter requires periodic refresh. This frequent refresh requires more access time which makes it slower than SRAM. Additionally, SRAMs are costlier than DRAMs.


    In the past, power dissipation was never the major issue as the transistor density and the operating frequency was less that could lead to this factor. Gradual growth rate in transistor density resulted in adverse effect of power dissipation. Chip area and speed are the major trade-off considerations but a low power design decision affects the aspects such as reliability, design cycle time, reusability, testability, and design complexity [4].

    First factor is the increasing in number of transistors predicted by Moores law that number of transistors will increase in every 18 months [3]. The need of low power arises from such evolution forces of integration circuit. The need for low power chips is the increased market demand for portable electronic devices that require batteries.

    Sources of power dissipation

    There are three sources of the power dissipation that can be classified as dynamic power dissipation and static power dissipation in digital CMOS circuit [2]. Short circuit and switching are the types of dynamic power dissipation whereas static power consumption occurs due to sub-threshold leakage current, reverse bias diffusion leakage.

    In dynamic power dissipation the parasitic capacitances are charged and discharged during logic transition. The current flowing through the path offering resistance results in electrical energy converting to power dissipated as heat. The power dissipated is proportional to the square of the supply voltage, node voltage swing and the average switched capacitance per cycle.

    Pswitching = (VDD)2 CLoad f [1] Eq.(1) The second source of power dissipation is when there is a short circuit current flowing from supply to ground while n- sub network and p-sub network are conducting simultaneously. During the interval when both logics are changing in response to the change in output. The duration during which both the networks are simultaneously on, depends on their rising and fall time and thus depends the duration of short circuit current.

    Pshortckt=VDD*I [1] Eq.(2)


    The static power dissipation consists of leakage current flowing through the transistor when input and outputs are not changing. This current is known as sub-threshold leakage current since it occurs when the gate voltage is less than the threshold voltage. In other words, sub-threshold leakage is a drain-source current of transistor when gate-source voltage is less than threshold voltage of the transistor [4].

    Fig.1. Schematic visualizing leakage in 6T-SRAM in standby mode [4]



    GS th


    /kT) [5] Eq.(3)



    Leakage current comprises of sub-threshold leakage current, gate leakage current and gate induced drain leakage. In SRAM when WL is asserted 0 (Fig.1), and BL and are pre-charged to VDD, with node Q and storing 0 and 1 respectively [16- 17], their exist leakage current. With the above said condition, both the access transistors are OFF. In OFF state, sub- threshold current flows through transistors M1, M4 and M5 since these are OFF. Transistors M2, M3 and M6 contribute to gate leakage current. Gate induced drain leakage current flows through transistors M2, M3, M5 and M6. To minimize all these leakage current, following techniques are applied to the memory cell.

    (i). Gated VDD

    The power that dominates in transistor is sub-threshold leakage and gate-leakage power. As the size of the transistor is scaled down in deep sub-micron, it has become the major component that cannot be neglected any more as it majorly contributes to the leakage power. To minimize the leakage power, a high Vth gated VDD transistor is placed between the circuit and ground [7]. Alternately, PMOS can be employed as gated VDD. PMOS reduces the overhead area because it does not require any necessary sizing as NMOS gated VDD does. But it is not mostly preferred if used in terms of saving the power since it cannot isolate the bit-line with the ground.

    Fig.2. Schematic of Gated VDD with 6T-SRAM

    A high threshold NMOS transistor is used to turn OFF the power from the memory cell when it is not in use (Fig.2). Since leakage depends exponentially on the threshod voltage, it is possible to reduce leakage power to a large extend by employing a high threshold device [14]. When the memory cell is in use this signal is ON, providing the path to ground. When the WL (word line) is held low, no functioning takes place in the cell, at the same time gated signal is turned low to reduce the leakage of the circuit.

    NMOS gated VDD should be sized such that it saves energy. If the size is varied more, it becomes less efficient for power. Sizing of the NMOS gated VDD can be decided depending on the size of the NMOS transistor since any one of them only would be ON during read operation. Gated VDD is more favorable during the read operation.

    1. .Dynamic voltage scaling

      Another method to reduce leakage power is dynamic voltage scaling. This circuit employs two PMOS high threshold transistors that have their individual signal to supply VDD during the active mode of the circuit and low voltage to be activated when the circuit is in sleep mode [14].

      In the architecture, two PMOS transistors are placed between the VDD and memory cell. M7 transistor supplies VDD to the circuit when the input signal LV (low voltage) is low during

      the active mode of the cell. On the contrary, M8 transistor is turned ON by applying the signal to the memory cell when the circuit is in sleep mode. To improve the leakage current of the circuit, the pass transistors can also be employed with high threshold voltage.

      The circuit is more susceptible to noise and the threshold voltage varies across the process corners.

      (iii).MT-CMOS(Multi-Threshold Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)

      The architecture of MT-CMOS consists of high threshold transistors, placed near the supply or GN and the circuit [15]. In SRAM, PMOS high VTH is placed between VDD and the memory while NMOS high VTH transistor is positioned between cell and GND. The memory cell comprises of low VTH transistors for high speed. These are connected to virtual VDD and virtual GND instead of direct supply. In active mode, transistors M7 and M8 are ON while memory carries it functional read and write operation when WL is high. At this point of time, transistor M7 and M8 connects the circuit from virtual VDD to VDD and virtual GND to GND respectively. Conversely, when WL is inactive, the circuit moves in sleep mode. In this OFF state, the transistors M7 and M8 disconnects the circuit from the VDD and GND. The circuit remains in the floating state during sleep mode. This leads to the reduction in the leakage current. The only drawback of this architecture is that as soon as the power is OFF, it loses its data.

      Fig.3. Schematic of MT-CMOS in 5T-SRAM

      To avoid such state, diodes can be connected in parallel to the high VTH transistors. During active mode, the high VTH transistors are ON while diodes are OFF. On the contrary, the diodes conduct during sleep mode resulting in retaining the data with reduced leakage current.


    The architecture of the SRAM and the leakage reduction techniques were implemented using 90nm technology file in Cadence Virtuoso. These blocks were simulated using Spectre and techniques to reduce leakage power were implemented.

    The leakage current flowing through the transistors that were in off state, the graphs were plotted. The average of these current of each off-state transistor was calculated and the obtained current of each transistor was summed up and power

    dissipation in standby was achieved by the product of sum of leakage current and VDD.

    Fig.4. Current waveform of MT-CMOS 5T-SRAM

    Fig.5. Current waveform gated VDD 6T-SRAM The leakage reduction techniques were implemented and

    leakage power was measured for all those transistors that were in off state.

    Low power technique

    6T-SRAM in


    5T-SRAM in








    Dynamic voltage scaling






    Table.1. Comparison of low power techniques applied on 6T- SRAM and 5T-SRAM


Proper read and write operation of 5T-SRAM and 6T-SRAM were performed and leakage power was calculated. Subsequently, leakage reduction techniques were implemented on these SRAMs and it was found that MT-CMOS has reduced leakage power in 5T-SRAM to a large extent. Gated VDD was effective on 6T-SRAM as it reduced the leakage by 46%. The percentage by which the leakage power was reduced by MT-CMOS technique on 5T-SRAM was found to be 43.71%.


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