NEC and Tohoku University developed a spintronics text-search chip that cuts power reduction by 99%

NEC and Tohoku's University have jointly developed a new spintronics-based logic prototype chip specifically aimed towards text search systems. Early testing suggest that this new chip has drastically reduced power consumption - 1% or even less compared to conventional systems (DRAM and CPU). This significant reduction was achieved due to the non-volatility of the spintronic circuit which only requires power to necessary circuit blocks and does not require any standby power.

NEC and Tohoku developed new multi-functional CAM cells for text-search logic. The new CAM cells are able to avoid searching for long index texts when searching for short lengths of text within a large amount of index data. This was achieved by setting up combinations (patterns) of input signals that represent long texts. This enables circuits to detect when a long text is input, and to avoid any further unnecessary operations.

The prototype chip was fabricated using a 90 nm CMOS circuit device and can store character strings up to 1 Mb in volume (4,000 index words of up to 32 letters). The prototype chip conducted search operations consuming just 25.7 mW of power with almost zero standby power.In the future, gigabit-level spintronics-based logic LSIs for text search systems are expected to help enable the commercialization of these technologies.

NEC and Tohoku has been collaborating on Spintronics and MRAM research for quite a while. In June 2011 they developed Spin-CAM, an MRAM based CAM (content addressable memory) that includes non-volatile storage by using the vertical magnetization of vertical domain wall elements in a cobalt-nickel active layer.

Posted: Jun 16,2013 by Ron Mertens