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Submission + - x86 Computation Without Executing Any Instructions (usenix.org)

jones_supa writes: Trust Analysis, i.e. determining that a system will not execute some class of computations, typically assumes that all computation is captured by an instruction trace. A team at Dartmouth College shows that powerful computation on x86 processors is possible without executing any CPU instructions. They demonstrate a Turing-complete execution environment driven solely by the IA32 architecture’s interrupt handling and memory translation tables, in which the processor is trapped in a series of page faults and double faults, without ever successfully dispatching any instructions. The 'hard-wired' logic of handling these faults is used to perform arithmetic and logic primitives, as well as memory reads and writes. This mechanism can also perform branches and loops if the memory is set up and mapped just right. The lessons of this execution model are discussed for future trustworthy architectures.

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