Article ID: 000088623 Content Type: Maintenance & Performance Last Reviewed: 12/01/2021

Is the Performance Overhead of Running an Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) Application in Simulation Mode Significant?


Performance implications of running an Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) program in Simulation mode

  • Attempting to use Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) Simulation mode to assess the performance of Intel SGX without using an Intel SGX platform.
  • Unable to determine the performance overhead of Simulation mode.

Simulation mode is not suitable for performance testing of Intel SGX applications. In Simulation mode, the Intel SGX hardware instructions are simulated in the software, which is slower than running natively in hardware. Simulation mode also uses simulated versions of the:

  • Trusted libraries
  • Untrusted libraries
  • Platform Software

To test Intel SGX performance overhead, use a platform that supports Intel SGX and compile the application in Pre-release mode, which uses compiler optimizations, but enclaves are launched in enclave-debug mode.

Whether the performance overhead due to Simulation mode is significant depends on the tolerance of the overhead in your use-case.

For further information on the compilation profiles, refer to the Enclave Project Configurations section in the Intel SGX Developer Reference Guide for your OS.

Additional information

The Intel SGX Developer Reference for Linux* is in the Documentation folder of the latest release of the Intel® Software Guard Extensions SDK for Linux*.

The Intel SGX Developer Reference for Windows* is distributed with the Intel SGX SDK for Windows* installation package.

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