Chip Design Thwarts Sneak Attack on Data

Cache architecture harnesses the power of randomization

3 min read

Data encrypted on your computer should be safe, as long as you’re the only one with the key to the encryption. But one variant of newer—and sneakier—attacks can deduce the key by striking a vulnerable spot: the CPU’s on-chip memory, called the cache. Software-based attempts to bolster cache security have bad side effects, however, which can severely degrade the computer’s performance. Now researchers have developed a new kind of cache architecture that neutralizes these attacks. They found that combining the best qualities of the two main types of cache had amazing results: a secure cache that also handles data faster and consumes less power.

The new technology, called Newcache, developed at Princeton University by electrical engineering professor Ruby Lee and her graduate student, Zhenghong Wang, foils these so-called cache side-channel attacks by randomizing where data is stored in the cache.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less