Abstract Herzog

Benedict Herzog, Stefan Reif, Julian Preis, Wolfgang Schröder-Preikschat and Timo Hönig

Energy Overhead of Meltdown and Spectre Mitigations on Linux

Long-standing assumptions about the security of hardware protection features were unsettled with the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre hardware vulnerabilities. As they exploit timing-related side-channels deeply integrated in modern CPU architectures, new attack vectors and exploits, based on Meltdown and Spectre, as well as the corresponding hard- and software mitigations will remain a relevant topic in the upcoming years. Furthermore, already-deployed systems without hardware mitigations must solely rely on software mitigations.

Since the development of the first software mitigations, the performance overhead has been thoroughly analysed. However, for the energy overhead only little research exists, even though it is one of the most critical non-functional properties of computing systems nowadays.

This talk presents a fine-grained energy analysis of Meltdown and Spectre software mitigations on Linux revealing energy overheads of up to 72%. Furthermore, it provides an analysis of the effects of different subsystems (i.e., CPU, memory, I/O, network/interprocess communication) and presents a model for energy overhead prediction.