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VLSI Design - Volume 2 1994, Issue 3, Pages 267-286

Computer Science Engineering Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

Received 20 April 1991; Revised 15 March 1993

Copyright © 1994 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The use of associative memories—storage devices that allow data retrieval based on contents—has often beensuggested to speed up the performance of many applications. Until recently, using such content-addressablememories CAMs was unfeasible due to their high hardware cost. However, the advent of VLSI has made theclass of fully-parallel associative memory cost-effective for implementation. This paper briefly overviews designof several fully parallel associative memories proposed in the literature, concentrating on the design of fully-parallelθ-search CAMs.

Existing market realities require that product development be fast and predictable. As a result, design flexibilityand automation are becoming increasingly important design features. Using the various CAM designs reviewed,the paper collects the features of these designs into a general, modular CAM organization and describes its majorcomponents. The modular CAM organization can be used to design application specific CAMs of varying degreesof functionality. Design and space complexity of a sample associative memory suitable for relational databaseoperations is studied. Finally, the application of genetic algorithms as a means to developing automated designtools for fabrication of modular VLSI design chips is discussed.

Given a library of CAM modules, the desired functionality and a set of speed and area constraints, thisoptimization technique produces a suitable CAM design. The proposed technique has been implemented and itsperformance measure is briefly addressed.

Author: A. R. Hurson and S. Pakzad



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