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Patent Issued for Row Address Control Circuit Semiconductor Memory Device Including the Same and Method of Controlling Row Address

February 12, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- A patent by the inventors Yang, Hui-Kap (Hwaseong-si, KR); Jeong, Woo-Seop (Hwaseong-si, KR); Park, Chul-Sung (Seocho-gu, KR), filed on September 20, 2011, was published online on January 28, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8638626 is assigned to Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Gyeonggi-do, KR).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Example embodiments relate to semiconductor devices, and more particularly to a row address control circuit, a semiconductor memory device including the same and a method of controlling row addresses of a semiconductor memory device.

"In general, DRAM cells, which are used in area requiring high speed data transmission, includes dynamic cells, each having a cell capacitor and a cell transistor which switches the cell capacitor. In the dynamic cells, refresh operation needs to be performed periodically. Recently, semiconductor memory devices have been developed for handling such refresh operation internally.

"However, when the semiconductor memory devices handle the refresh operation internally, such semiconductor memory devices may have lower operating speed. In addition, there may be some difficulties for testing precisely refresh timing in such semiconductor memory devices."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Some example embodiments provide a row address control circuit capable of selecting a row address to be refreshed.

"Some example embodiments provide a semiconductor memory device including the row address control circuit.

"Some example embodiments provide a method of controlling a row address of a semiconductor memory device capable of selecting a row address to be refreshed.

"According to some example embodiments, a row address control circuit of a semiconductor memory device including dynamic memory cells includes a test mode setting unit, an address counter and a row address generating unit. The test mode setting unit may provide a test mode signal indicating whether a test operation is performed or not, in response to a test command. The address counter may generate a first address increasing gradually. The row address generating unit may selectively choose one of the first address and a second address as a refresh address, in response to the test mode signal. The second address may be externally provided.

"In some embodiments, the row address generating unit may operate in a normal mode when the test mode signal has a first logic level, and the row address generating unit may operate in a test mode when the test mode signal has a second logic level.

"The row address generating unit may include a selection circuit that selects the first address as the refresh address when the test mode signal has the first logic level, and selects the second address as the refresh address when the test mode signal has the second logic level.

"The row address generating unit may further include a first switch that is turned on in response to an active command and transfers the second address; and a second switch that is turned on in response to a refresh command and transfers the refresh address output from the selection circuit.

"The selection circuit may include a multiplexer which has a first input terminal receiving the first address, a second input terminal receiving the second address and a control terminal receiving the test mode signal.

"The selection circuit may include an inverter that receives the test mode signal; a first AND gate that receives an output of the inverter and the first address; a second AND gate that receives the test mode signal and the second address; and an OR gate that receives outputs of the first and second AND gates.

"A refresh operation based on a refresh command and an active operation based on an active command may be performed on a same bitline when the test mode signal has the second logic level.

"According to some example embodiments, a semiconductor memory device includes a memory cell area including a plurality of dynamic memory cells; a refresh circuit that generates a refresh command; and a row address control circuit. The row address control circuit generates a refresh address for performing refresh operation on the memory cell area, in response to the refresh command. The row address control circuit may select a first address in a normal mode and selects a second address in a test mode. The first address may be an address that is generated in the row address control circuit, and the second address may be an address that is input to the row address control circuit externally.

"In some embodiments, the memory cell area may be divided into a plurality of banks, each of the banks may include a plurality of memory blocks, and the plurality of memory blocks may each be associated with same bitlines and share a sense amplifier.

"In some embodiments, the refresh circuit may be a hidden refresh circuit which generates the refresh command autonomously without regard to an external command.

"In some embodiments, the row address control circuit may include a test mode setting unit that provides a test mode signal in response to a test command; and a row address generating unit that selectively chooses one of the first address and a second address as a refresh address in response to the test mode signal.

"The row address generating unit may operate in the normal mode when the test mode signal has a first logic level, and the row address generating unit may operate in the test mode when the test mode signal has a second logic level.

"In some embodiments, the row address generating unit outputs the second address in response to an active command.

"The refresh address generated for the refresh operation and an address generated for an active operation may designate a same memory block.

"According to some example embodiments, in a method of controlling refresh address of a semiconductor memory device including dynamic memory cells, a test mode signal may be generated in response to a test command. One of an external address and an internal address may be selectively chosen as a refresh address in based on a test mode signal. A refresh operation is performed on a memory block corresponding to the refresh address. Active operation is performed on the memory block to determine whether the memory block has defects or not.

"In some embodiments, the internal address may be selected as the refresh address when the test mode signal has a first logic level, and the external address may be selected as the refresh address when the test mode signal has a second logic level.

"According to some example embodiments, a row address control circuit of a semiconductor memory device including dynamic memory cells may include a row address generating unit configured to receive a first signal, and to selectively choose one of a first address and a second address as a refresh address based on the first signal. The first address may be an address generated based on an internal counting operation, and the second address may be an externally provided address.

"The row address control circuit may further include an address counter configured to perform the counting operation, and to generate the first address based on the counting operation; and a test mode setting unit configured to generate a test mode signal in response to a test command. The test mode signal may indicate whether a test operation is to be performed or not. The test mode signal may be the first signal.

"According to some example embodiments, a semiconductor memory device may include a memory cell area including a plurality of dynamic memory cells; and a row address control circuit configured to generate a refresh address for performing a refresh operation on memory cells from among the plurality of dynamic memory cells. The row address control circuit may be configured to select a first address in a normal mode and configured to select a second address in a test mode. The first address may be internally generated. The second address may be input to the row address control circuit externally.

"The semiconductor device may further include a refresh circuit configured to generate the refresh command.

"According to some example embodiments, a method of controlling refresh address of a semiconductor memory device including dynamic memory cells may includes electively choosing one of an externally received address and an internally generated address as a refresh address based on a test mode signal; and performing a refresh operation on a memory block corresponding to the refresh address.

"The method may further include generating the test mode signal in response to a test command; and performing an active operation on the memory block after performing the refresh operation to determine whether the memory block has defects or not.

"Accordingly, example embodiments may control the row address to be refreshed externally in the test mode, and thus, are capable of decreasing test time and enhancing performance by performing test with a reduced or minimum timing margin."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Yang, Hui-Kap; Jeong, Woo-Seop; Park, Chul-Sung. Row Address Control Circuit Semiconductor Memory Device Including the Same and Method of Controlling Row Address. U.S. Patent Number 8638626, filed September 20, 2011, and published online on January 28, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=42&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=2052&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140128.PD.&OS=ISD/20140128&RS=ISD/20140128

Keywords for this news article include: Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd..

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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