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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S000259/1
Title: Variability-aware RRAM PDK for design based research on FPGA/neuro computing
Principal Investigator: Zhang, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Zhang, Professor JF JI, Dr Z
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ARM Ltd IMEC Synopsys (International)
Department: School of Engineering
Organisation: Liverpool John Moores University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 15 August 2018 Ends: 31 December 2022 Value (£): 378,364
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 May 2018 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel May 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The semiconductor industry has provided the devices we have enjoyed for many years, including mobile phones, personal computers, on-line banking etc. The growing functionality of these products is a result of making the components, namely transistors and memory elements, ever smaller, at the rate that in every 18 months or so the number of components in a given area has doubled, which also makes the devices run faster. The industry now runs into a fundamental roadblock in shrinking the devices further, so we need to look for a new device type which will continue to provide higher performance. One strong contender is the RRAM (resistive random access memory) which we will investigate in this project. This device can be programmed to offer either a high or low electrical resistance: that is, store a logic "0" or "1", or even with some intermediate levels in between. It can store information which will remain even after the power is turned off, as so called non-volatile.

With this device, a number of disruptive developments are under intensive research world-wide. Its first potential application is to increase the speed of the non-volatile memory chip in computers by more than 10 times and provide potential for further increase in the number of components. The second is in the artificial intelligence (AI) computing which mimics the functionality of human brains. AI has been widely used by Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. RRAM has the potential to bring a breakthrough in AI by solving the density, connectivity and memory bandwidth limitations of AI hardware based on conventional devices. The third is to revolutionise the programmable computing with its smaller size and non-volatility, providing advantages for computing in data centres and Internet of Things, in which the vast amount of data will be streamed through internet and the scalability and energy efficiency provided by RRAM become critical.

The behaviour of RRAM devices, however, is stochastic, meaning that a large variation occurs during the device operation. At present, the lack of systematic understanding of the variability and the missing tools for variability-aware simulation hinder the research progress in RRAM-based circuit and systems design for neuromorphic and programmable computing. In this project we will collaborate with UK's leading IC design company, ARM Holdings, and the world no.1 EDA software company, Synopsys, providing direct insight into the fundamental properties of RRAM variability and developing a predictive variability-aware product design kit (PDK) that can be directly used within commercial EDA software by designers, enabling the research and design of novel RRAM based neuromorphic and programmable computing systems. We expect this project to have a significant direct impact on the UK and global ICT industry in the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) era.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.livjm.ac.uk