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Future Trends in Microelectronics by Alexander Zaslavsky, Jimmy Xu, Serge Luryi

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1.6

A Universal Nonvolatile Processing Environment

T. Windbacher, A. Makarov, V. Sverdlov and S. Selberherr

Institute for Microelectronics, TU Wien, 1040 Vienna, Austria

1 Introduction

After many decades of stunning progress in the shrinking of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) devices, the steadily increasing difficulty in handling physical limitations as well as the rapidly increasing production and investment costs for each new technology generation will stop CMOS scaling in the not-too-distant future. Among the most challenging problems for further performance gains today are the static power dissipation as well as the interconnection delay and the associated energy for information transport.1 2 A very efficient solution to the static leakage power problem is to simply turn off unused parts of a circuit. However, this causes the previously stored information to vanish and requires energy- and time-wasting recovery cycles, when the dormant circuit parts are powered up. Thus, in order to avoid information loss during shutdown, nonvolatile elements must be incorporated.

Due to its CMOS compatibility, nonvolatility, high endurance, and fast operation, spintronics is a promising avenue for adding nonvolatility to circuits.3 The term spintronics is very general and covers a vast number of devices with an extreme variety in operating principles and practical feasibility for commercial applications.3 4 In this chapter, we concentrate on what, in our opinion, appears ...

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