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Patent Issued for Synchronous Multi-Temperature Sensor for Semiconductor Integrated Circuits

February 19, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Lee, Seong Seop (Icheon-si, KR); Kim, Saeng Hwan (Suwon-si, KR), filed on November 16, 2010, was published online on February 4, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8645095, is SK Hynix Inc. (Gyeonggi-do, KR).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "To meet the demands of the high performance of electronic systems such as personal computers or electronic communication devices, nonvolatile semiconductor memory devices such as DRAMs mounted as memory devices have been designed to operate at higher speed and have become highly integrated. Since semiconductor memory devices mounted on battery-driven systems such as mobile phones or notebook computers require a low power consumption characteristic, many efforts and developments have been made to reduce an operating current and a standby current.

"A data retention characteristic of a DRAM cell consisting of one transistor and one storage capacitor is sensitive to temperature. Therefore, it may be necessary to adjust the operating conditions of circuit blocks inside semiconductor integrated circuits, depending on the variation in an ambient temperature. For example, DRAMs used in mobile products adjust a refresh period, depending on the variation in an ambient temperature. Temperature sensors, such as a Digital Temperature Sensor Regulator (DTSR), an Analog Temp Sensor Regulator (ATSR), and a Digital Temperature Compensated Self Refresh (DTCSR), are used to adjust the operating conditions depending on the variation in the ambient temperature.

"FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating the configuration of a conventional temperature sensor. The conventional temperature sensor includes a sense voltage generation unit 10 and a temperature code generation unit 11. The sense voltage generation unit 10 is configured to sense an inside temperature of a semiconductor integrated circuit and to generate a sense voltage VSENSE based thereon. The temperature code generation unit 11 is configured to compare the sense voltage VSENSE with a reference voltage VREF and to generate a temperature code TQ based thereon. More specifically, the temperature sensor compares a level of the sense voltage VSENSE with a level of the reference voltage VREF and generates the temperature code TQ, which contains information indicating whether an inside temperature of the semiconductor integrated circuit is higher than a temperature corresponding to the level of the reference voltage VREF.

"However, such a temperature sensor can sense only one temperature, therefore it is necessary to adjust the level of the reference voltage VREF through a design modification in order to sense multiple temperatures. Furthermore, when the level of the sense voltage VSENSE changes according to process variations, a design modification for adjusting the level of the reference voltage VREF is required."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "An embodiment of the present invention relates to a temperature sensor which is capable of easily sensing a plurality of temperatures, without design modification, and coping with process variations.

"In one embodiment, a temperature sensor includes: a counting signal generation unit configured to generate first and second counting signals which are counted in response to an oscillation signal in a test mode; a counting signal decoding unit configured to decode the first and second counting signals and generate first and second test selection signals and an end signal; an input reference voltage selection unit configured to output a first selection reference voltage or a second selection reference voltage as an input reference voltage in response to the first and second test selection signals; and a latch pulse generation unit configured to generate first and second latch pulses in response to the first and second test selection signals.

"In another embodiment, a temperature sensor includes: a sense voltage generation unit configured to sense an inside temperature of a semiconductor integrated circuit and generate a sense voltage; a selection signal generation unit configured to generate a selection signal in response to a fuse cutting or a test mode pulse in a first test mode; a reference voltage selection unit configured to select and output first and second selection reference voltages among a plurality of reference voltages in response to the selection signal; and a voltage pulse generation unit configured to be driven in a second test mode, count first and second counting signals in response to an oscillation signal, decode the first and second counting signals to generate first and second test selection signals, and generate an input reference voltage and first and second latch pulses from the first and second test selection signals."

For more information, see this patent: Lee, Seong Seop; Kim, Saeng Hwan. Synchronous Multi-Temperature Sensor for Semiconductor Integrated Circuits. U.S. Patent Number 8645095, filed November 16, 2010, and published online on February 4, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=31&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1532&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140204.PD.&OS=ISD/20140204&RS=ISD/20140204

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, SK Hynix Inc., Semiconductor.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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