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Fast development of hardware-based run-time monitors through architecture framework and high-level synthesis

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2 Author(s)
Ismail, M. ; Sch. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, USA ; Suh, G.E.

Recent work has shown that hardware-based runtime monitoring techniques can significantly enhance security and reliability of computing systems with minimal performance and energy overheads. However, the cost and time for implementing such a hardware-based mechanism presents a major challenge in deploying the run-time monitoring techniques in real systems. This paper addresses this design complexity problem through a common architecture framework and high-level synthesis. Similar to customizable processors such as Tensilica Xtensa where designers only need to write a small piece of code that describes a custom instruction, our framework enables designers to only specify monitoring operations. The framework provides common functions such as collecting a trace of execution, maintaining meta-data, and interfacing with software. To further reduce the design complexity, we also explore using a high-level synthesis tool (Cadence C-to-Silicon) so that hardware monitors can be described in a high-level language (SystemC) instead of in RTL such as Verilog and VHDL. To evaluate our approach, we implemented a set of monitors including soft-error checking, uninitialized memory checking, dynamic information flow tracking, and array boundary checking in our framework. Our results suggest that our monitor framework can greatly reduce the amount of code that needs to be specified for each extension and the high-level synthesis can achieve comparable area, performance, and power consumption to handwritten RTL.

Published in:

Computer Design (ICCD), 2012 IEEE 30th International Conference on

Date of Conference:

Sept. 30 2012-Oct. 3 2012