Exposing the Robustness and Vulnerability of Hybrid 8T-6T SRAM Memory Architectures to Adversarial Attacks in Deep Neural Networks

Abhishek Moitra, Priyadarshini Panda

Deep Learning is able to solve a plethora of once impossible problems. However, they are vulnerable to input adversarial attacks preventing them from being autonomously deployed in critical applications. Several algorithm-centered works have discussed methods to cause adversarial attacks and improve adversarial robustness of a Deep Neural Network (DNN). In this work, we elicit the advantages and vulnerabilities of hybrid 6T-8T memories to improve the adversarial robustness and cause adversarial attacks on DNNs. We show that bit-error noise in hybrid memories due to erroneous 6T-SRAM cells have deterministic behaviour based on the hybrid memory configurations (V_DD, 8T-6T ratio). This controlled noise (surgical noise) can be strategically introduced into specific DNN layers to improve the adversarial accuracy of DNNs. At the same time, surgical noise can be carefully injected into the DNN parameters stored in hybrid memory to cause adversarial attacks. To improve the adversarial robustness of DNNs using surgical noise, we propose a methodology to select appropriate DNN layers and their corresponding hybrid memory configurations to introduce the required surgical noise. Using this, we achieve 2-8% higher adversarial accuracy without re-training against white-box attacks like FGSM, than the baseline models (with no surgical noise introduced). To demonstrate adversarial attacks using surgical noise, we design a novel, white-box attack on DNN parameters stored in hybrid memory banks that causes the DNN inference accuracy to drop by more than 60% with over 90% confidence value. We support our claims with experiments, performed using benchmark datasets-CIFAR10 and CIFAR100 on VGG19 and ResNet18 networks.

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