Smart Heat Control of Microchips

Infrared Cameras at KIT Monitor Thermal Patterns of Computer Chips / Integrated Heat Sensors and Neural Networks on the Chip Can Identify Attacks by Hackers
Setup to monitor a computer chip with infrared cameras. (Photo: CES/KIT)
Setup to monitor a computer chip with infrared cameras. (Photo: CES/KIT)

Miniaturization of computer chips is a perfect gateway for attacks by hackers: Microchips are highly sensitive and might be destroyed physically by specific overloading. Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have now demonstrated that monitoring of the processors’ thermal patterns allows conclusions to be drawn with respect to manipulative control commands. This might give rise to a new generation of computer chips with integrated intelligent monitoring systems that self-adapt to new threats.

Technological progress in the electronics sector, such as higher speeds, reduced costs, and smaller sizes, result in entirely new possibilities of automation and industrial production, without which “Industry 4.0” would not be feasible. In particular, miniaturization advanced considerably in the last years. Meanwhile, physical flow of a few electrons is sufficient to execute a software. But this progress also has its dark side. Processors for industrial production of less than 10 nm in dimension are highly sensitive. By specific overloading through incorrect control commands, hackers might initiate an artificial aging process that will destroy the processors within a few days. To defend such attacks on industrial facilities in the future, researchers of KIT are now working on a smart self-monitoring system.

Full text: press release 003/2018

mhe, 16.01.2018