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A circuit’s logic is separate from its memory. But does this really make sense given that transferring data from one to the other accounts for up to 80% of a circuit’s energy consumption? Leti, a CEA Tech institute, created the My Cube project to solve this problem. Financed by the European Research Council (ERC), My Cube will develop a novel in-memory computing solution.
Today’s circuits, built on the Von Neumann architecture, are made up of separate transistor blocks and memory blocks. The My Cube project is investigating how to give each memory cell its own transistor, using Leti’s tried and tested 3D integration technologies to physically embed the two within a single structure. The resulting units will be able to perform basic computations with the goal of providing simplified data to external logic blocks, which will then perform more complex computations.
The researchers working on the project will have to overcome some technological hurdles to achieve the 3D integration. However, they will also have to modify existing algorithms for the new technology. A demonstrator built on silicon nanowires—the most appropriate for the application—and non-volatile resistive memory will be completed at Leti by the end of the project in 2022. It will use 20 times less energy than a conventional state-of-the-art Von Neumann circuit.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.