Machine Learning on the Thermal Side-Channel: Analysis of Accelerator-rich Architectures

David Werner, Tufts University
Kyle Juretus, Drexel University
Ioannis Savidis, Drexel University
Mark Hempstead, Tufts University

Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Computer Design (ICCD 2018). October 2018. Orlando, Fl.



The thermal profiles of integrated circuits (ICs) have been leveraged as a side-channel in multiple circuit and architectural scenarios. Applications range from identifying hardware Trojans to estimating the per-core power consumption of homogeneous multicore processors. Such scenarios leverage the correlation between the on-chip location of the consumed power with some target information of interest, such as correlating the extra power consumption at a specific circuit position with the presence of a hardware Trojan. While the spatial correlation between the power consumption and thermal profiles applies to all ICs, there is a fundamental difference in the context of modern SoCs. The difference stems from the presence of hardware accelerators, in which localized power consumption corresponds to the system performing the specific task that a given accelerator executes.

The work described in the paper demonstrates the implications of correlating the thermal and power profiles of SoCs by presenting two working case studies that determine, at runtime, 1) the activity factor of each accelerator and 2) whether or not a system is infected by malware. This work relies on preprocessing thermal images in order to obtain a spatial profile of the estimated power density and uses a modified version of a previously developed technique that is tailored for use with accelerator-rich ICs. The resulting power estimates are fed into machine learning models that predict the core activity factor with mean average errors between 3% and 5% for the highest performing core. The statistical models used for malware detection result in an AuROC score of up to 1.0 and 0.9 when the malware offsets the activity factor of a single core by 2.5% and the 3-sigma width of the workload activity factor distribution is 2.5% and 5%, respectively