Wear Leveling Revisited

Authors Taku Onodera, Tetsuo Shibuya

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Author Details

Taku Onodera
  • Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Finland
Tetsuo Shibuya
  • Human Genome Center, Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan


The first author thanks Keisuke Goto for encouragement to publish the result.

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Taku Onodera and Tetsuo Shibuya. Wear Leveling Revisited. In 31st International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 181, pp. 65:1-65:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


Wear leveling - a technology designed to balance the write counts among memory cells regardless of the requested accesses - is vital in prolonging the lifetime of certain computer memory devices, especially the type of next-generation non-volatile memory, known as phase change memory (PCM). Although researchers have been working extensively on wear leveling, almost all existing studies mainly focus on the practical aspects and lack rigorous mathematical analyses. The lack of theory is particularly problematic for security-critical applications. We address this issue by revisiting wear leveling from a theoretical perspective. First, we completely determine the problem parameter regime for which Security Refresh - one of the most well-known existing wear leveling schemes for PCM - works effectively by providing a positive result and a matching negative result. In particular, Security Refresh is not competitive for the practically relevant regime of large-scale memory. Then, we propose a novel scheme that achieves better lifetime, time/space overhead, and wear-free space for the relevant regime not covered by Security Refresh. Unlike existing studies, we give rigorous theoretical lifetime analyses, which is necessary to assess and control the security risk.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Data structures design and analysis
  • Hardware → Memory and dense storage
  • Security and privacy → Security in hardware
  • Wear leveling
  • Randomized algorithm
  • Non-volatile memory


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