Home > NEC develops first content addressable memory (CAM) to store data without using power

NEC develops first content addressable memory (CAM) to store data without using power

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NEC Corporation and Tohoku University have announced the development of the world's first content addressable memory (CAM) that both maintains the same high operation speed and non-volatile operation as existing circuits when processing and storing data on a circuit while power is off.

NEC's new content addressable memory (CAM) is a part of spintronics logic integrated circuit technologies that utilise the negative properties of electrons together with the spin magnetic moment.

The new content addressable memory (CAM) utilises the vertical magnetisation of vertical domain wall elements in reaction to magnetic substances in order to enable data that is processing within the content addressable memory (CAM) to be stored on a circuit without using power. This contrasts to conventional technologies that require data to be stored within memory. As a result, data can be saved on circuits even when power is cut.

In recent years, the use of ICT equipment has steadily increased due to the widespread growth of cloud computing. Most existing equipment requires a short amount of time to get started and internal circuits remain active when the equipment is in standby mode. Therefore, the growing consumption of power by ICT equipment in standby mode has become a serious concern.

Use of the new content addressable memory (CAM) in combination with existing nonvolatile memory is related to greater non-volatility of CPU for electronics and other storage devices.

Furthermore, use of this new content addressable memory (CAM) enables the development of electronics that start instantly and consume zero electricity while in standby mode.

These new contetn addressable memories feature a range of key features, such as high speed data retrieval and a reduced circuit area.

High-speed data retrieval
In order for content addressable memories (CAM) to be both nonvolatile and maintain a high speed, two spintronics devices, spinning in opposite directions to one another, have been connected within the same cell. In terms of constructing the circuit, writing is done once by connecting two devices in a series using recently developed three pin particles that separate the current path into writing and reading.

This new process enables cells to become more compact since the number of writing switches per element is reduced by one. Moreover, the new content addressable memories (CAM) achieve the same level of high-speed data retrieval as current CMOS based units that feature 5ns and low power consumption of 9.4mW.

Compartively reduced circuit area
In addition to the vertical domain wall element connecting in series by separating the route of current into reading and writing, the newly developed content addressable memory (CAM) circuit technologies can reduce the number of transistors from eight to three in every two cells by sharing transistors. This results in a 50% content addressable memory (CAM) area reduction.

NEC developed nonvolatile particles aiming for both greater convenience and energy conservation. Additionally, NEC and Tohoku University developed a simulation technology for a circuit diagram including spintronics particles in parallel with designing technologies for massively large integrated circuits for developments involving the most advanced spintronics logic integrated circuits.

Looking forward, NEC and Tohoku University will continue to drive the latest developments of integrated circuits that capitalise on spintronics technology.

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