Neighbor-cell assisted error correction for MLC NAND flash memories
The 2014 ACM international conference on Measurement and modeling of computer systems - SIGMETRICS '14
Continued scaling of NAND flash memory to smaller process technology nodes decreases its reliability, necessitating more sophisticated mechanisms to correctly read stored data values. To distinguish between different potential stored values, conventional techniques to read data from flash memory employ a single set of reference voltage values, which are determined based on the overall threshold voltage distribution of flash cells. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of program interference, in which
... cell's threshold voltage unintentionally changes when a neighboring cell is programmed, makes this conventional approach increasingly inaccurate in determining the values of cells. This paper makes the new empirical observation that identifying the value stored in the immediate-neighbor cell makes it easier to determine the data value stored in the cell that is being read. We provide a detailed statistical and experimental characterization of threshold voltage distribution of flash memory cells conditional upon the immediate-neighbor cell values, and show that such conditional distributions can be used to determine a set of read reference voltages that lead to error rates much lower than when a single set of reference voltage values based on the overall distribution are used. Based on our analyses, we propose a new method for correcting errors in a flash memory page, neighborcell assisted correction (NAC). The key idea is to re-read a flash memory page that fails error correction codes (ECC) with the set of read reference voltage values corresponding to the conditional threshold voltage distribution assuming a neighbor cell value and use the re-read values to correct the cells that have neighbors with that value. Our simulations show that NAC effectively improves flash memory lifetime by 33% while having no (at nominal lifetime) or very modest (less than 5% at extended lifetime) performance overhead.