DRAMSpec: A High-Level DRAM Timing, Power and Area Exploration Tool

  • Christian Weis
  • Abdul Mutaal
  • Omar Naji
  • Matthias Jung
  • Andreas Hansson
  • Norbert Wehn

DOI: 10.1007/s10766-016-0473-y

Cite this article as:
Weis, C., Mutaal, A., Naji, O. et al. Int J Parallel Prog (2016). doi:10.1007/s10766-016-0473-y


In systems ranging from mobile devices to servers, DRAM has a big impact on performance and contributes a significant part of the total consumed power. The performance and power of the system depends on the architecture of the DRAM chip, the design of the memory controller and the access patterns received by the memory controller. Thus, evaluating the impact of DRAM design decisions requires a holistic approach that includes an appropriate model of the DRAM bank, a realistic controller and DRAM power model, and a representative workload, which requires a full system simulator running a complete software stack. In this paper, we introduce DRAMSpec, a high-level DRAM bank/chip modeling tool. Our contribution is to move the DRAM modeling abstraction level from the circuit level to the DRAM bank and by the integration in full system simulators we allow system or processor designers (non-DRAM experts) to tune future DRAM architectures for their target applications. We demonstrate the merits of DRAMSpec by exploring the influence of DRAM row-buffer (page) size and the number of banks on performance and power of a server application (memcached). Our new DRAM design offers a 16% DRAM performance improvement and 13% DRAM energy saving compared to standard comodity DDR3 devices. Additionally, we demonstrate how our tool is able to aid in evaluating novel DRAM architectures, such as the Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC), for which no DRAM datasheets are available. Finally, we highlight the DRAM technology scaling for a specific HMC architecture and we quantify the impact on latency and power.


DRAM Modeling Power Timing Area Full System Simulation gem5 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microelectronic Systems Design Research GroupUniversity of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  2. 2.Research, ARM Ltd.CambridgeUK

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