SUTD researchers are developing a new reconfiguration

Figure 1

image: Schematic representation of data loading and retrieval from the device occurring in serial model and parallel mode, respectively (left panel) and table showing changes of states in the three bits during operations (right panel).
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Credit: SUTD

The development of high-performance, energy-efficient computing devices, that is, devices that not only consume little power but also calculate information quickly, is a major goal of edge computing research. Combining memory components with units that perform shift recording operations is a potential way to achieve this goal.

Most computing devices consist of a physically separate memory component and a processing unit. However, to greatly simplify these devices and reduce their power consumption, a device that can efficiently perform both functions – in-memory recording architecture – was developed.

Conventional in-memory shift-registration architectures have limitations, although some of these architectures show promising results. Limitations include the use of many devices and the requirement that electrical resistance be converted into electrical signals.

Based on phase-changing alloys, materials that reversibly switch between an amorphous glassy state and an ordered crystalline state, researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed a novel memory-shift-recording architecture. Their device acts both as a reconfigurable memory component and as a programmable shift register and was presented in a paper published in advanced intelligent systems.

The term “material state-based (M) shift register” has been used to describe the memory shift register device developed by the researchers. The four material states, i.e., amorphous state, fully crystalline state, partially crystalline state and introductory state, of the phase change material (representing different recording/memory modes) were used to operate the device.

The device can be swapped to perform recording or memory functions and can be easily programmed due to its special design. The researchers showed the device to perform impressively for both functions in initial tests.

When serving as a memory, the device can be switched from the disordered glass state to the crystalline state with 1.9-ns pulses, which are approximately one-third shorter than those with nitrogen-doped germanium antimony telluride layers; and exhibits a reset energy of 2 pJ. When operated as a shift recorder, it can The device switches between serial-in-serial-output mode to serial-in-parallel mode, with a single cell, and shows many levels of resistance, which have not been shown before, said SUTD associate professor Desmond Locke, who is the principal investigator on the study.

To significantly reduce power consumption, the new in-memory architecture proposed by the research team can be used to design a wide range of high-performance electronic systems in the future. M-state-based shift registers can be applied to a variety of operation schemes and calculations, although for the purpose of this research, the researchers have shown that these devices are capable of successfully performing shift registers.

Other researchers involved in this work are Shao-Xiang Go, Qiang Wang, and Natasa Bajalovic from SUTD, Taehoon Lee from the University of Cambridge, and Kejie Huang from Zhejiang University.

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