Analysis Of The On-DRAM-Die Read Disturbance Mitigation Method: Per Row Activation Counting


A technical paper titled “Understanding the Security Benefits and Overheads of Emerging Industry Solutions to DRAM Read Disturbance” was published by researchers at ETH Zürich and TOBB University of Economics and Technology.


“We present the first rigorous security, performance, energy, and cost analyses of the state-of-the-art on-DRAM-die read disturbance mitigation method, Per Row Activation Counting (PRAC), described in JEDEC DDR5 specification’s April 2024 update. Unlike prior state-of-the-art that advises the memory controller to periodically issue refresh management (RFM) commands, which provides the DRAM chip with time to perform refreshes, PRAC introduces a new back-off signal. PRAC’s back-off signal propagates from the DRAM chip to the memory controller and forces the memory controller to 1) stop serving requests and 2) issue RFM commands. As a result, RFM commands are issued when needed as opposed to periodically, reducing RFM’s overheads. We analyze PRAC in four steps. First, we define an adversarial access pattern that represents the worst-case for PRAC’s security. Second, we investigate PRAC’s configurations and security implications. Our analyses show that PRAC can be configured for secure operation as long as no bitflip occurs before accessing a memory location 10 times. Third, we evaluate the performance impact of PRAC and compare it against prior works using Ramulator 2.0. Our analysis shows that while PRAC incurs less than 13.4% performance overhead for today’s DRAM chips, its performance overheads can reach up to 63.2% for future DRAM chips that are more vulnerable to read disturbance bitflips. Fourth, we define an availability adversarial access pattern that exacerbates PRAC’s performance overhead to perform a memory performance attack, demonstrating that such an adversarial pattern can hog up to 79% of DRAM throughput and degrade system throughput by up to 65%. We discuss PRAC’s implications on future systems and foreshadow future research directions. To aid future research, we open-source our implementations and scripts at this https URL.”

Find the technical paper here. Published June 2024 (preprint).

Canpolat, Oğuzhan, A. Giray Yağlıkçı, Geraldo F. Oliveira, Ataberk Olgun, Oğuz Ergin, and Onur Mutlu. “Understanding the Security Benefits and Overheads of Emerging Industry Solutions to DRAM Read Disturbance.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2406.19094 (2024).

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