CODIC: A Low-Cost Substrate for Enabling Custom In-DRAM Functionalities and Optimizations

06/10/2021
by   Lois Orosa, et al.
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DRAM is the dominant main memory technology used in modern computing systems. Computing systems implement a memory controller that interfaces with DRAM via DRAM commands. DRAM executes the given commands using internal components (e.g., access transistors, sense amplifiers) that are orchestrated by DRAM internal timings, which are fixed foreach DRAM command. Unfortunately, the use of fixed internal timings limits the types of operations that DRAM can perform and hinders the implementation of new functionalities and custom mechanisms that improve DRAM reliability, performance and energy. To overcome these limitations, we propose enabling programmable DRAM internal timings for controlling in-DRAM components. To this end, we design CODIC, a new low-cost DRAM substrate that enables fine-grained control over four previously fixed internal DRAM timings that are key to many DRAM operations. We implement CODIC with only minimal changes to the DRAM chip and the DDRx interface. To demonstrate the potential of CODIC, we propose two new CODIC-based security mechanisms that outperform state-of-the-art mechanisms in several ways: (1) a new DRAM Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) that is more robust and has significantly higher throughput than state-of-the-art DRAM PUFs, and (2) the first cold boot attack prevention mechanism that does not introduce any performance or energy overheads at runtime.

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