On the thermal attack in instruction caches

Joonho Kong, Johnsy K. John, Eui Young Chung, Sung Woo Chung, Jie Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The instruction cache has been recognized as one of the least hot units in microprocessors, which leaves the instruction cache largely ignored in on-chip thermal management. Consequently, thermal sensors are not allocated near the instruction cache. However, malicious codes can exploit the deficiency in this empirical design and heat up fine-grain localized hotspots in the instruction cache, which might lead to physical damages. In this paper, we show how instruction caches can be thermally attacked by malicious codes and how simple techniques can be utilized to protect instruction caches from the thermal attack.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5465864
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) grant funded by the Korea government (MEST) (No. R01-2007-000-20750-0). This work was also supported by a Korea University Grant. The authors would like to thank Professor Kevin Skadron for his helpful comments. Finally, they would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback. Sung Woo Chung is the corresponding author of this paper.


  • Cache memories
  • Fine-grain localized hotspot
  • Malicious codes
  • Microprocessors
  • Thermal attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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