Analysis of Row Hammer Attack on STTRAM

Mohammad Nasim Imtiaz Khan, Swaroop Ghosh

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

9 Scopus citations


In this paper, we model and investigate the impact of Row Hammering (RH) on Spin-Transfer Torque RAM (STTRAM) by exploiting its write operation. STTRAM suffers from high write current and long write latency which can result in ground bounce. The magnitude of the bounce depends on the old data and the new data that is being written. The bounce can propagate to the nearest word-line drivers and partially turn ON the access transistors making weak current flow through the memory bitcells and reducing their thermal energy barrier. Therefore, continuous write at a particular location can force the massive number of unselected bits to suffer from degraded thermal barrier due to weak RH current. Reduced thermal barrier may lead to retention failures and make the bits sensitive to stray magnetic field/thermal noise. Those bits can also suffer from read disturb if they are read. These issues could be even worse for Short Retention NVM (SRNVM) which is suitable for Last Level Cache (LLC) and has a base retention of only few seconds. The ground bounce can also propagate to bitline/ source-line drivers and the selected cells will experience lower headroom voltage. This will lead to read failure (due to degraded sense margin) and write failure (due to increased write latency). Simulation result indicates that RH attack can flip the bits in just 30.84secs for STTRAM with base retention of 1 min. In presence of elevated temperature, the retention time can be further reduced to 2.46secs and 0.19secs for T=50C and T=75C respectively. RH attack can increase read disturb by 2.09X for bitcell with 1min base retention at T=25C. Simulation result also indicates that RH attack can cause read/write failure if the bitcell being read/written experience 306mV (for data 0)/110mV (for writing 0-> 1) of bounce. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first RH attack study for STTRAM-based cache.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2018 IEEE 36th International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2018
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781538684771
StatePublished - Jan 16 2019
Event36th International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2018 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Oct 7 2018Oct 10 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2018 IEEE 36th International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2018


Conference36th International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of Row Hammer Attack on STTRAM'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this