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Publication numberUS20010026477 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/844,952
Publication dateOct 4, 2001
Filing dateApr 27, 2001
Priority dateJan 19, 1999
Also published asUS6288954, US6407955
Publication number09844952, 844952, US 2001/0026477 A1, US 2001/026477 A1, US 20010026477 A1, US 20010026477A1, US 2001026477 A1, US 2001026477A1, US-A1-20010026477, US-A1-2001026477, US2001/0026477A1, US2001/026477A1, US20010026477 A1, US20010026477A1, US2001026477 A1, US2001026477A1
InventorsTroy Manning
Original AssigneeMicron Technology, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Integrated circuit having an on-board reference generator
US 20010026477 A1
Abstract
An integrated circuit includes a differential amplifier having a first terminal that is operable to receive an input signal and having a second terminal. The integrated circuit also includes a reference circuit that generates a reference signal on the second terminal of the amplifier. During testing of the integrated circuit, the reference circuit can be activated to generate the reference signal such that a tester need not supply it as a test signal. During normal operation, however, either the reference circuit can generate the reference signal or the reference signal can be supplied by an external source.
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Claims(50)
What is claimed:
1. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a differential amplifier having a first terminal operable to receive an input signal and having a second terminal; and
a reference circuit coupled to the amplifier and operable to generate a first reference signal on the second terminal.
2. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
, further comprising an integrated-circuit terminal coupled to the second terminal of the amplifier and operable to receive a second reference signal.
3. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
wherein the reference circuit is operable to generate the first reference signal during a test mode of operation.
4. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
wherein the first reference signal comprises a reference voltage.
5. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
, further comprising:
an integrated-circuit terminal operable to receive a second reference signal; and
a buffer circuit coupled to the integrated-circuit terminal, the amplifier, and the reference circuit, the buffer circuit operable to couple the integrated-circuit terminal to the second terminal of the amplifier during a first mode of operation and to uncouple the integrated-circuit terminal from the second terminal of the amplifier during a second mode of operation.
6. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
, further comprising:
an integrated-circuit terminal operable to receive a second reference signal; and
a buffer circuit coupled to the integrated-circuit terminal, the amplifier, and the reference circuit, the buffer circuit operable to uncouple the integrated-circuit terminal from the second terminal of the amplifier during a test mode of operation and to couple the integrated-circuit terminal to the second terminal of the amplifier during a nontest mode of operation.
7. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
, further comprising:
wherein the first reference signal has a first magnitude;
an integrated-circuit terminal operable to receive a second reference signal having a second magnitude that approximately equals the first magnitude; and
a buffer circuit coupled to the integrated-circuit terminal, the amplifier, and the reference circuit, the buffer circuit operable to couple the integrated-circuit terminal to the second terminal of the amplifier during a first mode of operation and to uncouple the integrated-circuit terminal from the second terminal of the amplifier during a second mode of operation.
8. The integrated circuit of
claim 1
, further comprising:
first and second power-supply terminals; and
wherein the reference circuit comprises:
a load coupled to the first supply terminal;
a switch serially coupled to the load and operable to enable the reference circuit when closed and disable the reference circuit when open; and
a diode serially coupled between the switch and the second supply terminal.
9. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a differential amplifier having first and second input terminals; and
a reference-signal generator having a reference-signal output terminal coupled to the second input terminal of the amplifier.
10. The integrated circuit of
claim 9
, further comprising a reference-signal terminal coupled to the second input terminal of the amplifier.
11. The integrated circuit of
claim 9
, further comprising:
a reference-signal terminal; and
a buffer having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and an output terminal coupled to the second terminal of the amplifier.
12. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a conductive reference pad operable to receive a first reference signal;
a circuit having a first input terminal coupled to the reference pad; and
a reference circuit coupled to the circuit and operable to generate a second reference signal on the first input terminal.
13. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
wherein:
the first reference signal has a first magnitude; and
the second reference signal has a second magnitude that is approximately equal to the first magnitude.
14. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
, further comprising:
a conductive input pad operable to receive an input signal; and
wherein the circuit has a second input terminal coupled to the input pad.
15. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
wherein the circuit further comprises:
a second input terminal operable to receive an input signal; and
a differential amplifier having first and second input terminals respectively coupled to the first and second input terminals of the circuit.
16. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
, further comprising:
a logic circuit operable to receive a mode input signal, to generate a mode output signal having a first value if the mode input signal identifies a first mode of operation, and to generate the mode output signal having a second value if the mode input signal identifies a second mode of operation; and
a buffer circuit coupled to the logic circuit and between the reference pad and the circuit, the buffer circuit operable to couple the first reference signal to the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the first value and to uncouple the first reference signal from the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the second value.
17. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
, further comprising:
a conductive mode pad operable to receive a mode input signal;
a logic circuit coupled to the mode pad and operable to generate a mode output signal having a first value if the mode input signal indicates a first mode of operation and to generate the mode output signal having a second value if the mode input signal indicates a second mode of operation; and
a buffer circuit coupled to the logic circuit and between the reference pad and the circuit, the buffer circuit operable to couple the first reference signal to the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the first value and to uncoupled the first reference signal from the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the second value.
18. The integrated circuit of
claim 12
wherein the circuit comprises a clock input terminal operable to receive a clock signal.
19. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a conductive reference pad;
a circuit having a first input terminal coupled to the reference pad; and
a reference-signal generator having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the circuit.
20. The integrated circuit of
claim 19
, further comprising:
a conductive input pad; and
wherein the circuit has a second input terminal coupled to the conductive input pad.
21. The integrated circuit of
claim 19
, further comprising:
a mode-selection circuit having a mode output terminal; and
a buffer coupled between the reference pad and the circuit, the buffer having a control terminal coupled to the mode output terminal, a first input terminal coupled to the reference pad, and an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the circuit.
22. The integrated circuit of
claim 19
, further comprising:
a conductive mode pad;
a mode-selection circuit having an input terminal coupled to the mode pad and having a mode output terminal; and
a buffer coupled between the reference pad and the circuit, the buffer having a control terminal coupled to the mode output terminal, an input terminal coupled to the reference pad, and an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the circuit.
23. The integrated circuit of
claim 19
wherein the circuit further comprises:
a second input terminal; and
a differential amplifier having a first and second input terminals respectively coupled to the first and second input terminals of the circuit.
24. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package and operable to receive a first reference signal;
a circuit disposed inside of the package and having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal; and
a reference circuit disposed inside of the package, coupled to the circuit, and operable to generate a second reference signal on the first input terminal of the circuit.
25. The integrated circuit of
claim 24
wherein the circuit comprises:
a second input terminal operable to receive an input signal; and
a differential amplifier having first and second input terminals respectively coupled to the first and second input terminals of the circuit.
26. The integrated circuit of
claim 24
, further comprising:
an input-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package and operable to receive an input signal; and
wherein the circuit comprises a second input terminal coupled to the input-signal terminal.
27. The integrated circuit of
claim 24
, further comprising:
a conductive mode terminal accessible from outside the package and operable to receive a mode input signal;
a logic circuit disposed within the package, coupled to the mode terminal, and operable to generate a mode output signal having a first value if the mode input signal indicates a first mode of operation and to generate the mode output signal having a second value if the mode input signal indicates a second mode of operation; and
a buffer circuit disposed within the package, coupled to the logic circuit, coupled between the reference-signal terminal and the circuit, and operable to couple the reference-signal terminal to the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the first value and to uncouple the reference-signal terminal from the first input terminal of the circuit if the mode output signal has the second value.
28. The integrated circuit of
claim 24
, further comprising:
a clock-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package and operable to receive a clock signal;
an input-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package and operable to receive an input signal; and wherein
the circuit comprises:
a second input terminal coupled to the input-signal terminal;
a clock input terminal coupled to the clock-signal terminal; and
a differential amplifier having a first, second, and clock input terminals respectively coupled to the first, second, and clock input terminals of the circuit.
29. An integrated circuit, comprising:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a circuit disposed inside of the package and having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal; and
a reference-signal generator disposed inside of the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the circuit.
30. The integrated circuit of
claim 29
, further comprising:
an input-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package; and
wherein the circuit comprises a second input terminal coupled to the input-signal terminal.
31. The integrated circuit of
claim 29
, further comprising:
a conductive mode terminal accessible from outside the package;
a mode-select circuit disposed within the package and having an output terminal; and
a buffer disposed within the package, coupled between the reference-signal terminal and the circuit, and having a control terminal coupled to the output terminal of the mode-select circuit, an input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal, and an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the circuit.
32. The integrated circuit of
claim 29
, further comprising:
a clock-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an input-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package; and
wherein the circuit comprises:
a second input terminal coupled to the input-signal terminal;
a clock input terminal coupled to the clock-signal terminal; and
a differential amplifier having a first, second, and clock input terminals respectively coupled to the first, second, and clock input terminals of the circuit.
33. A memory circuit, comprising:
a conductive reference-signal pad;
a conductive address-signal pad;
a conductive data-signal pad;
an address decoder that includes a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal pad and having a second input terminal coupled to the address-signal pad;
a reference-signal generator having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier;
a memory array coupled to the address decoder; and
a read/write circuit coupled to the data-signal pad and to the memory array.
34. A memory circuit, comprising:
a conductive reference-signal pad;
a conductive data-signal pad;
a conductive address-signal pad;
an address decoder coupled to the address-signal pad;
a memory array coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit coupled to the memory array and including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal pad and having a second terminal coupled to the data-signal pad; and
a reference-signal generator having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier.
35. A memory circuit, comprising:
a conductive reference-signal pad;
a conductive address-signal pad;
a conductive data-signal pad;
a conductive control-signal pad;
an address decoder coupled to the address-signal pad;
a memory array coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit coupled to the data-signal pad and to the memory array;
a control circuit coupled to the address decoder, the control circuit including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal pad and having a second terminal coupled to the control-signal pad; and
a reference-signal generator having an output terminal coupled to the first terminal of the amplifier.
36. A memory circuit, comprising:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second input terminal coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder; and
a read/write circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the data-signal terminal and to the memory array.
37. A memory circuit, comprising:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit disposed within the package, coupled to the memory array, and including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second terminal coupled to the data-signal terminal; and
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier.
38. A memory circuit, comprising:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a control-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the data-signal terminal and to the memory array;
a control circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder, the control circuit including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second terminal coupled to the control-signal terminal; and
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first terminal of the amplifier.
39. An electronic system, comprising:
a data input device;
a data output device; and
a computer circuit coupled to the data input and output devices and including a processor and a memory circuit coupled to the processor, the memory circuit including:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second input terminal coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder; and
a read/write circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the data-signal terminal and to the memory array.
40. An electronic system, comprising:
a data input device;
a data output device; and
a computer circuit coupled to the data input and output devices and including a processor and a memory circuit coupled to the processor, the memory circuit including:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit disposed within the package, coupled to the memory array, and including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second terminal coupled to the data-signal terminal; and
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first input terminal of the amplifier.
41. An electronic system, comprising:
a data input device;
a data output device; and
a computer circuit coupled to the data input and output devices and including a processor and a memory circuit coupled to the processor, the memory circuit including:
a package;
a reference-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a data-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
a control-signal terminal accessible from outside of the package;
an address decoder disposed within the package and coupled to the address-signal terminal;
a memory array disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder;
a read/write circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the data-signal terminal and to the memory array;
a control circuit disposed within the package and coupled to the address decoder, the control circuit including a differential amplifier having a first input terminal coupled to the reference-signal terminal and having a second terminal coupled to the control-signal terminal; and
a reference-signal generator disposed within the package and having an output terminal coupled to the first terminal of the amplifier.
42. A method, comprising:
internally generating a first reference signal on a first terminal of a differential amplifier disposed in an integrated circuit; and
coupling an input signal to a second terminal of the differential amplifier.
43. The method of
claim 42
wherein the generating comprises internally generating the first reference signal during a test mode of the integrated circuit.
44. The method of
claim 42
, further comprising:
wherein the generating comprises coupling the first reference signal to the first terminal of the amplifier during a first operational mode of the integrated circuit; and
coupling a second reference signal to the first terminal of the amplifier during a second operational mode of the integrated circuit.
45. A method, comprising:
during a first time period, providing an externally generated reference signal to a terminal of a circuit disposed in an integrated circuit; and
during a second time period, providing an internally generated reference signal to the terminal of the circuit.
46. The method of
claim 45
wherein the circuit comprises a differential amplifier having an input terminal coupled to the terminal of the circuit.
47. The method of
claim 45
, further comprising generating the internally generated reference signal with a reference circuit disposed in the integrated circuit.
48. The method of
claim 45
, further comprising:
operating the integrated circuit in a first mode during the first time period; and
operating the integrated circuit in a second mode during the second time period.
49. The method of
claim 45
, further comprising:
operating the integrated circuit in a nontest mode during the first time period; and
operating the integrated circuit in a test mode during the second time period.
50. The method of
claim 45
wherein the first time period does not overlap the second time period.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The invention relates generally to electronic circuits, and more specifically to an integrated circuit (IC) having an on-board reference generator. For example, if the generator is on-board a memory circuit, one can activate the generator to provide an internal reference signal during a test mode of the memory circuit, and one can deactivate the generator to allow the memory circuit to receive an external reference signal during normal operation.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Because it is generally true that the fewer signals needed to test an IC the higher and more efficient the testing throughput for a batch of the ICs, IC design engineers strive to minimize the number of signals needed to test an IC. For example, suppose that an IC tester has sixty signal probes. If each of the ICs being tested requires twenty test signals, then the tester can test three ICs at a time. If, however, each of the ICs requires twenty one test signals, then the tester can test only two ICs at a time. Thus in this example, just one extra test signal per IC decreases the testing throughput by one third. Furthermore, in the latter case, the IC tester is significantly under utilized, and thus the testing is relatively inefficient with respect to the tester, because eighteen signal probes (60-42) are unused during each test cycle.

[0003]FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a portion of a reduced-signal-level dynamic random access memory (DRAM) circuit 10 such as a Direct Rambus® DRAM (RDRAM®) specified by Rambus Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. The memory circuit 10 includes one or more terminals 12 0-12 n for receiving digital signals S0-Sn, a reference terminal 14 for receiving a reference voltage Vref, and clock terminals 16 a and 16 b for receiving complimentary Clock From Master signals CFM and CFM, respectively. Typically, Vref is half way between the logic 0 and logic 1 levels of S0-Sn to provide symmetrical noise margins. Also, CFM and {overscore (CFM)} are typically derived from the rising and falling edges, respectively, of a single Master Clock (MC) signal (not shown) having a 50% duty cycle and the same frequency as CFM and {overscore (CFM)}. In one embodiment, the signals S0-Sn have logic 0=1.8 volts (V) and logic 1=1.0V, Vref=1.4V, and CFM and {overscore (CFM)} each have a frequency of 400 megahertz (MHz).

[0004] The memory circuit 10 also includes differential input buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n for converting the voltage levels of S0-Sn into voltage levels that are compatible with the circuitry (not shown) internal to the memory circuit 10. These buffers are arranged in pairs [18 0, 20 0], . . . ,[18 n, 20 n] for alternately sampling the signals S0-Sn, respectively. Specifically, each buffer 18 receives a respective signal S on a non-inverting (+) terminal, Vref on an inverting (−) terminal, and CFM on a clock terminal 22. Similarly, each buffer 20 receives a respective signal S on a non-inverting terminal, Vref on an inverting terminal, and {overscore (CFM)} on a clock terminal 24. Receiving the complimentary CFM and {overscore (CFM)} signals instead of the MC signal provides the memory circuit 10 with two major advantages. First, although each buffer pair [18, 20] effectively samples a respective signal S on both the rising and falling edges—and thus at twice the frequency—of MC, each buffer of the pair operates at only half this sampling rate. Furthermore, each buffer of the pair is sensitive to the same clock-edge polarity, i.e., either rising or falling, and thus all the buffers 18 and 20 can have the same circuit design. Reducing the sampling rate of and using a single design for the buffers 18 and 20 often reduces the overall design and layout complexity of the memory circuit 10.

[0005] The memory circuit 10 also includes an IC package 21. The terminals 12 0-12 n, 14, and 16 a and 16 b are disposed on the outside of the package 21, and the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n are disposed inside of the package 21.

[0006] In operation, using the input-buffer pair [18 0, 20 0] and the signal values given above as examples, the buffer 18 0 samples S0 by comparing S0 to Vref in response to the rising edge of CFM. If S0 equals logic 0, i.e., 1.8 V, then the buffer 18 0 generates a high output-voltage level, which the circuitry internal to the memory circuit 10 interprets as a logic 0. Conversely, if So equals logic 1, ie., 1.0 V, then the buffer 18 0 generates a low output-voltage level, which the circuitry internal to the memory circuit 10 interprets as a logic 1. The buffer 200 samples S0 in response to the rising edge of {overscore (CFM)} in a similar manner. The remaining input-buffer pairs [18 1, 20 1], . . . ,[18 n, 20 n] respectively sample S1-Sn in a similar manner.

[0007] Specific examples of the memory circuit 10 are described in more detail in the Advance Information sheet for the Direct RDRAM® 128/144-Mbit (256 k×16/18×32 S) and in other Rambus® publications, which are available from Rambus Incorporated of Mountain View, Calif. or from the Rambus website at www.rambus.com, and which are incorporated by reference herein.

[0008] Unfortunately, one must provide Vref to the terminal 14 during testing of the memory circuit 10 so that the differential input buffers 18 and 20 will function properly. Thus, as discussed above, providing Vref as a test signal may significantly lower the testing throughput and efficiency for a batch of the memory circuits 10.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] In one aspect of the invention, an integrated circuit includes a differential amplifier having a first terminal that is operable to receive an input signal and having a second terminal. The integrated circuit also includes a reference circuit that generates a reference signal on the second terminal of the amplifier.

[0010] Therefore, during testing of such an IC, the tester can enable the on-board reference circuit to internally generate the reference signal such that the tester need not provide the reference signal. During normal operation, however, the IC can use the reference circuit to internally generate the reference signal or can receive the reference signal from an external source.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] A description of the various embodiments of the invention is made with reference to the following drawings where like reference numerals are used for like elements.

[0012]FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a portion of a conventional memory circuit.

[0013]FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a portion of a memory circuit according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0014]FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of the reference-signal generator of FIG. 2.

[0015]FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the memory circuit of FIG. 2 according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0016]FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an electronic system that incorporates the memory circuit of FIGS. 2 and 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0017]FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a portion of a reduced-signal-level memory circuit 30 according to an embodiment of the invention. The memory circuit 30 is similar to the memory circuit 10 of FIG. 1 except that it includes an on-board reference-signal generator 32, which in one embodiment is used to internally generate a reference signal Vrefint during testing of the circuit 30. Furthermore, because system designers often want the flexibility of using a reference-signal value of their choice for certain other operational modes of the circuit 30, in one embodiment the circuit 30 receives an externally generated reference signal during operation in these other modes. Thus, in one embodiment, the circuit 30 accepts an externally generated reference signal during a normal mode of operation, but internally generates a reference signal during a test mode to reduce the number of test signals needed from the tester.

[0018] Like the memory circuit 10, the memory circuit 30 includes the terminals 12 0-12 n for respectively receiving the signals S0-Sn, the reference terminal 14 for receiving an externally generated reference signal Vrefext, the complimentary clock terminals 16 a and 16 b for receiving CFM and {overscore (CFM)}, the buffer pairs [18 0, 20 0], . . . ,[18 n, 20 n] for respectively sampling S0-Sn, and the package 21. The memory circuit 30 also includes terminals 36 0 and 36 1 for respectively receiving digital mode signals M0 and M1. A mode logic circuit 34 configures the internal circuitry of the circuit 30 and controls the generator 32 according to the operational mode indicated by M0 and M1. In one embodiment, the reference terminal 14 and the output terminal of the generator 32 are both directly connected to the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n. In another embodiment, however, an optional isolation buffer 38, which is controlled by the mode logic 34, uncouples the terminal 14 from the output terminal of the generator 32 and from the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n if the generator 32 is enabled. The generator 32, mode logic 34, and buffer 38 are disposed inside of the package 21, and the terminals 36 0 and 36 1 are disposed outside of the package 21.

[0019] In operation, the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n sample S0-Sn as described above in conjunction with FIG. 1. Furthermore, during a first mode of operation such as a normal mode, the system in which the memory circuit 30 is installed provides Vrefext and values for M0 and M1 such that the mode logic circuit 34 deactivates the generator 32. If the buffer 38 is present, the mode circuit 34 enables it to couple Vrefext to the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n. Conversely, during a second mode of operation such as a test mode, the system, which may include a tester, does not provide Vrefext and provides values for M0 and M1 such that the mode circuit 34 activates the generator 32 to generate Vrefint. If the buffer 38 is present, the mode circuit 34 disables it such that the terminal 14 is electrically isolated from the generator 32 and the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n. Thus, the buffer 38 prevents damage to the generator 32 that otherwise might occur if the system drives a signal onto the terminal 14.

[0020] In addition to the above-described embodiment, other embodiments of the memory circuit 30 are also possible. For example, S0-Sn and Vref may be coupled to the inverting and non-inverting terminals of the respective buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n. Furthermore, although described as a DC voltage, the reference signal may be an AC voltage or an AC or DC current. Moreover, if a lower sampling frequency is acceptable, then the circuit 30 can receive a single clock signal and include single input buffers to respectively sample each signal S0-Sn. Additionally, the circuit 30 may be designed to receive more or fewer mode signals M. Furthermore, the terminal 14 can be eliminated and the generator 32 permanently activated such that it generates Vref internally during all operational modes of the memory circuit 30.

[0021]FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of the reference-signal generator 32 of FIG. 2. The generator 32 includes a relatively long-channel PMOS transistor 40, switching PMOS and NMOS transistors 42 and 44, and diode-connected NMOS transistors 46 and 48, which are all connected in series between a power-supply voltage VDD and ground. The gate of the transistor 40 is coupled to ground such that the transistor 40 acts as a high-impedance load to limit the current drawn by the generator 32. The gates of the transistors 42 and 44 respectively receive complementary enable signals ENABLE and {overscore (ENABLE)} from the mode circuit 34 (FIG. 2), and turn the generator 32 on and off in response to these signals. The generator provides the reference signal Vrefint on an output terminal 50, which is at the junction of the drains of the transistors 42 and 44.

[0022] In an operational mode during which the memory circuit 30 receives an externally generated reference signal, the mode logic 34 generates {overscore (ENABLE)} inactive logic 1 and ENABLE inactive logic 0 to deactivate the transistors 42 and 44 and thus to put the terminal 50 in a high-impedance state. This prevents a signal conflict at the inverting terminals of the buffers 18 0-18 n and 20 0-20 n.

[0023] In an operational mode during which the memory circuit 30 internally generates a reference signal, the mode logic 34 generates {overscore (ENABLE)} active logic 0 and ENABLE active logic 1 to activate the transistors 42 and 44 and thus to allow a current to flow through the transistors 46 and 48. The relatively high resistance of the transistor 40 limits this current to a desired level. While activated, the transistor 44 effectively acts as a short circuit such that Vrefint at the node 50 is approximately equal to the voltage across the transistors 46 and 48. Because the transistors 46 and 48 are diode connected, they generate drain-to-source voltage drops equal to their respective threshold voltages. Therefore, Vrefint approximately equals the sum of the threshold voltages of the transistors 46 and 48, which can be conventionally constructed to generate a desired value such as 1.4 V for Vrefint.

[0024] Although shown as a series combination of transistors, in other embodiments the generator 32 can be any other type of reference circuit that can generate Vrefint having a desired value.

[0025]FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an embodiment of the memory circuit 30 of FIG. 2. For example, the memory circuit 30 may be similar to a Direct RDRAM® 128/144−MBIT(256K×16/18×32 S), which is described in more detail in the Advanced Information sheet available from Rambus Incorporated of Mountain View, Calif. or from the Rambus website at www.rambus.com. Because of its relatively high operating frequency, the memory circuit 30 uses two sets of clock signals, one set for clocking in signals received the receiving of data from the system in which the circuit 30 is installed, and another set for clocking out signals to the system. For example, the set of clock signals CFM and CFM (FIG. 2) are used to clock in signals received from the system. For clarity, however, these sets of clock signals have been omitted from FIG. 4. Furthermore, the signals received from and sent to the system by the memory circuit 30 have voltage, logic-level, and frequency characteristics that are similar to those describe above for S0-Sn (FIG. 2).

[0026] The memory circuit 30 includes a row-decoding circuit 60 for receiving packets of row commands and addresses from a row bus 62. The row-decoding circuit 60 includes a row demultiplexer 64 for sequentially receiving portions of a row-information packet from the row bus 62 and presenting the row-information packet to a row decoder 66, which selects an addressed row of memory cells (not shown) in a memory array 68.

[0027] A column-decoding circuit 70 receives packets of column commands and addresses from a column bus 72. The column-decoding circuit 70 includes a column demultiplexer 74 for sequentially receiving portions of a column-information packet from the column bus 72 and presenting the column-information packet to a column decoder 76, which selects an addressed column of memory cells (not shown) in the memory array 68. For convenience, the combination of the row- and column-decoder circuits 60 and 70 can be referred to as an address decoder.

[0028] A control circuit 78 receives packets of control information from a control bus 80 and controls the row- and column-decoding circuits 60 and 70. The control circuit 78 includes control registers 82 for storing the control information, which includes, e.g., circuit-configuration information and a chip address assigned to the memory circuit 30 by the system in which the circuit 30 is installed.

[0029] The memory array 68 includes one or more memory banks 84 0-84 n, which each include one or more rows of memory cells, and includes a set of sense-amplifiers 86 0-86 y, which write data to and read data from the respective banks 84 0-84 n. The sense amplifiers 86 receive write data from and provide read data to internal data busses DQAint and DQBint. In one embodiment, each sense amplifier 86 can read or write up to half a row at one time. Thus, two sense amplifiers 86 are respectively coupled to each bank 84 so that together these two sense amplifiers can write or read an entire row at one time. To reduce the number of sense amplifiers 86, the memory banks 84 share them. For example, the banks 84 0 and 84 1 share the sense amplifier 86 1.

[0030] A read/write circuit 88 a transfers data between the internal data bus DQAint and an external data bus DQAext, and another read/write circuit 88 b transfers data between the internal data bus DQBint and an external data bus DQBext. Both DQAext and DQBext communicate with the data bus of the system in which the memory circuit 30 is installed. The read/write circuit 88 a includes a write demultiplexer 90 a for serially receiving groups of write-data bits from DQAext and converting these groups into parallel data. A write buffer 92 a receives the parallel write data from the demultiplexer 90 a and provides it to DQAint. The read/write circuit 88 a also includes a read multiplexer 94 a, which receives read data from DQAint, converts the read data into groups of read-data bits, and sequentially provides these groups of read-data bits to DQAext. Likewise, the read/write circuit 88 b includes a write demultiplexer 90 b, a write buffer 92 b, and a read multiplexer 94 b.

[0031] Typically, some or all of the following above-described circuits include input buffers like the input buffers 18 and 20 of FIG. 2: the row-decoding circuit 60, the column-decoding circuit 70, the control circuit 78, and the read/write circuits 88 a and 88 b. Each of these circuits may include its own reference generator 32 and optional isolation buffer 38, or the memory circuit 30 may include one generator 32 and one optional isolator 38 for all of these circuits. For example, the control circuit 78 may include the generator 32 and optional isolator 38 for use by the entire memory circuit 30, and may receive CFM and CFM from the control bus 80.

[0032] In operation during an initialization cycle of the memory circuit 30, the control circuit 78 receives one or more control packets from the bus 80, stores the corresponding control information in the control registers 82, and configures the internal circuitry, operating mode(s), and chip address of the memory circuit 30.

[0033] During a read or write operation, the row-decoding circuit 60 sequentially receives portions of the row packet from the bus 62, each portion including one or more row-packet bits. For example, in one embodiment, the row bus 62 is three bits wide, and a row packet includes twenty four bits. Therefore, the decoding circuit 60 receives the row packet as eight sequential packet portions of three bits each. The row demultiplexer 64 sequentially receives these packet portions and arranges the packet bits in a parallel format. The row decoder 66 receives the row packet from the demultiplexer 64 in this parallel format and enables the bank 84 and the row within this bank that are specified by the row packet. The row decoder 66 also controls the memory array 68 to implement the row-transfer mode specified by the row packet. Generally, the row-transfer mode indicates how the selected bank and row transfer data from or to the respective sense amplifiers 86. Similarly, the column-decoding circuit 70 sequentially receives portions of the column packet from the bus 72, each portion including one or more column-packet bits. For example, in one embodiment, the column bus 72 is five bits wide and the column packet includes forty bits. Therefore, the decoding circuit 70 receives the column packet as eight sequential packet portions of five bits each. The column demultiplexer 74 sequentially receives these packet portions and arranges the packet bits in a parallel format. The column decoder 76 receives the column packet from the demultiplexer 74 in this parallel format and enables the column or columns that are specified by the column packet. The column decoder 76 also controls the memory array 68 to implement the column-transfer mode specified by the column packet. Generally, the column-transfer mode specifies how the sense amplifiers 86 transfer data to or from the busses DQAint and DQBint.

[0034] In operation during a read cycle, the respective sense amplifiers 86 provide half the data stored in the memory cells of the specified row and column or columns to the read multiplexer 94 a and half to the read multiplexer 94 b via DQAint and DQBint, respectively. The multiplexers 94 a and 94 b receive their respective data portions in parallel format, convert this parallel data into respective groups of bits, and sequentially provide these groups of bits to DQAext and DQBext, respectively. For example, in one embodiment, the busses DQAint and DQBint are both seventy two bits wide, and the busses DQAext and DQBext are both nine bits wide. Therefore, the read multiplexer 94 a receives the seventy two read bits in parallel via DQAint and provides the read bits to DQAext as a sequence of eight groups of nine data bits each. Likewise, the read multiplexer 94 b receives the seventy two read bits in parallel via DQBint and provides the read bits to DQBext as a sequence of eight groups of nine data bits each.

[0035] In operation during a write cycle, the write demultiplexers 90 a and 90 b sequentially receive respective groups of write data bits from DQAext and DQBext, respectively, and arrange these groups of data bits in a parallel format. For example, in the embodiment described above where DGAext and DQBext include nine bits each and DQAint and DQBint include seventy two bits each, the demultiplexers 90 a and 90 b each receive eight respective groups of data bits and convert then into respective seventy-two bit words. The write buffers 92 a and 92 b receive these words of write data from the demultiplexers 90 a and 90 b and provide them to DQAint and DQBint, respectively. The respective sense amplifiers 86 then write the data from DQAint and DQBint into the specified row and column or columns of memory cells in the array 68.

[0036]FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an electronic system 100, such as a computer system, that incorporates the memory circuit 30 of FIGS. 2 and 4. The system 100 includes computer circuitry 102 for performing computer functions such as executing software to perform desired calculations and tasks. The circuitry 102 typically includes a processor 104 and the memory circuit 30, which is coupled to the processor 104. One or more input devices 106, such as a keyboard, mouse, or microphone, are coupled to the computer circuitry 102 and allow an operator (not shown) to input data thereto. One or more output devices 108 are coupled to the computer circuitry 102 to provide to the operator data generated by the computer circuitry 102. Examples of such output devices 108 include a printer and a video display unit. One or more data-storage devices 110 are coupled to the computer circuitry 102 to store data on or to retrieve data from external storage media (not shown). Examples of such storage devices 110 and the corresponding storage media include drives that accept hard and floppy disks, tape cassettes, and compact disk read-only memories (CD ROMS). Typically, the computer circuitry 102 includes row, column, control, and data busses that are respectively coupled to the row bus 62, column bus 72, control bus 80, and data busses DQAext and DQBext of the memory device 30.

[0037] From the foregoing it will be appreciated that, although specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6845034 *Mar 11, 2003Jan 18, 2005Micron Technology, Inc.Electronic systems, constructions for detecting properties of objects, and assemblies for identifying persons
US6868018 *May 7, 2003Mar 15, 2005Infineon Technologies AgMemory circuit, method for manufacturing and method for operating the same
US7158401Nov 30, 2004Jan 2, 2007Micron Technology, Inc.Methods for machine detection of at least one aspect of an object, methods for machine identification of a person, and methods of forming electronic systems
Classifications
U.S. Classification365/189.09, 365/201
International ClassificationG11C29/12
Cooperative ClassificationG11C29/12
European ClassificationG11C29/12
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