Dstress: Automatic synthesis of dram reliability stress viruses using genetic algorithms

Lev Mukhanov, Dimitrios S. Nikolopoulos, Georgios Karakonstantis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Citations (Scopus)


Failures become inevitable in DRAM devices, which is a major obstacle for scaling down the density of cells in future DRAM technologies. These failures can be detected by specific DRAM tests that implement the data and memory access patterns having a strong impact on DRAM reliability. However, the design of such tests is very challenging, especially for testing DRAM devices in operation, due to an extremely large number of possible cell-to-cell interference effects and combinations of patterns inducing these effects. In this paper, we present a new framework for the synthesis of DRAM reliability stress viruses, DStress. This framework automatically searches for the data and memory access patterns that induce the worst-case DRAM error behavior regardless the internal DRAM design. The search engine of our framework is based on Genetic Algorithms (GA) and a programming tool that we use to specify the patterns examined by GA. To evaluate the effect of program viruses on DRAM reliability, we integrate DStress with an experimental server where 72 DRAM chips can operate under various operating parameters and temperatures. We present the results of our 7-month experimental study on the search of DRAM reliability stress viruses. We show that DStress finds the worst-case data pattern virus and the worstcase memory access virus with probabilities of 1-4×10 -7 and 0.95, respectively. We demonstrate that the discovered patterns induce by at least 45% more errors than the traditional data pattern micro-benchmarks used in previous studies. We show that DStress enables us to detect the marginal DRAM operating parameters reducing the DRAM power by 17.7 % on average without compromising reliability. Overall, our framework facilitates the exploration of new data patterns and memory access scenarios increasing the probability of DRAM errors, which is essential for improving the state-of-the-art DRAM testing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 53rd Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO 2020): Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781728173832
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Event53rd Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO 2020 - Virtual, Athens, Greece
Duration: 17 Oct 202021 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO
ISSN (Print)1072-4451


Conference53rd Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO 2020
CityVirtual, Athens

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the H2020 Framework Program of the European Union through the UniServer Project (Grant Agreement 688540, http://www.uniserver2020.eu) and Opre-Comp project (Grant Agreement 732631, http://oprecomp.eu).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 IEEE Computer Society. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • DRAM
  • Program synthesis
  • Reliability
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture


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