Runtime Host Protocol

The Runtime Host Protocol (RHP) is a simple RPC protocol which is used to communicate between a runtime and an Oasis Core Compute Node.


The RHP assumes a reliable byte stream oriented transport underneath. The only current implementation uses AF_LOCAL sockets and Fortanix ABI streams backed by shared memory to communicate with runtimes inside Intel SGX enclaves.

Runtime Execution


All RHP messages use simple length-value framing with the value being encoded using canonical CBOR. The frames are serialized on the wire as follows:

[4-byte message length (big endian)] [CBOR-serialized message]

Maximum allowed message size is 16 MiB.


Each message can be either a request or a response as specified by the type field. Each request is assigned a unique 64-bit sequence number by the caller to make it possible to correlate responses.

See the API reference (Go, Rust) for a list of all supported message bodies. In case the request resulted in an error, the special Error response body must be used.


RHP allows two forms of communication:

  • Host-to-runtime where the host (compute node) submits requests to the runtime to handle and the runtime provides responses. All such request messages are prefixed with Runtime.

  • Runtime-to-host where the runtime submits requests to the host and the host provides responses. All such request messages are prefixed with Host.

In its lifetime, from connection establishment to its termination, the RHP connection goes through the following states:

  • Uninitialized is the default state of a newly created connection. In this state the connection could be used either on the runtime side or the host side. To proceed to the next state, the connection must be initialized either as a runtime or as a host. The Rust implementation only supports runtime mode while the Go implementation can be initialized in either mode by using either InitHost or InitGuest.

  • Initializing is the state when the connection is being initialized (see below for details). After a connection has been successfully initialized it will transition into ready state. If the initialization failed, it will instead transition into closed state.

  • Ready is the state when the connection can be used to exchange messages in either direction.

  • Closed is the state of the connection after it is considered closed. No messages may be exchanged at this point.

If either the runtime or the host generates an invalid message, either end may terminate the connection (and/or the runtime process).


Before a connection can be used, it must be initialized as either representing the runtime end or the host (compute node) end. The Rust implementation only supports being initialized as the runtime and the Go implementation is currently only used as the host. If one uses the oasis-core-runtime crate to build a runtime, initialization is handled automatically.

The initialization procedure is driven by the host and it proceeds as follows:

After the initialization procedure, the connection can be used for other messages. In case the runtime is running in a trusted execution environment (TEE) like Intel SGX, the next required step is to perform remote attestation.

Remote Attestation

When a runtime is executed in a TEE, it must perform remote attestation immediately after initialization. The Rust implementation also requires that remote attestation is periodically renewed and will start rejecting requests otherwise. In case a runtime is not executed in a TEE, this step is skipped.

NOTE: As currently Intel SGX is the only supported TEE, the elements of the remote attestation protocol are in some parts very specific to Intel SGX. This may change in the future when support for additional TEEs is added.

Upon initialization the host performs the following steps:

  • [Intel SGX] The host obtains information for the runtime to be able to generate an attestation report. This includes talking to the AESM service and the IAS configuration. The information includes the identity of the Quoting Enclave.

  • The host sends RuntimeCapabilityTEERakInitRequest passing the information required for the runtime to initialize its own ephemeral Runtime Attestation Key (RAK). The RAK is valid for as long as the runtime is running.

The initialization then proceeds as follows, with the following steps also being performed as part of periodic re-attestation:

  • The host sends RuntimeCapabilityTEERakReportRequest requesting the runtime to generate an attestation report.

  • The runtime prepares an attestation report based on the information provided during the first initialization step. It responds with RuntimeCapabilityTEERakReportResponse containing the public part of the RAK, the attestation report (binding RAK to the TEE identity) and a replay protection nonce.

  • [Intel SGX] The host proceeds to submit the attestation report to the Quoting Enclave to receive a quote. It submits the received quote to the Intel Attestation Service (IAS) to receive a signed Attestation Verification Report (AVR). It submits the AVR to the runtime by sending a RuntimeCapabilityTEERakAvrRequest.

  • [Intel SGX] The runtime verifies the validity of the AVR, making sure that it is not a replay and that it in fact contains the correct enclave identity and the RAK binding.

  • Upon successful verification the runtime is now ready to accept requests. As mentioned the attestation procedure must be performed periodically by the host as otherwise the runtime may start rejecting requests.

The compute node will submit remote attestation information to the consensus registry service as part of its node registration descriptor. The registry service will verify that the submitted AVR is in fact valid and corresponds to the registered runtime enclave identity. It will reject node registrations otherwise.


The following section describes the calls that a host can make to request processing from the runtime after successfully performing initialization (and initial remote attestation if running in a TEE).

Transaction Batch Dispatch

When a compute node needs to verify whether individual transactions are valid it can optionally request the runtime to perform a simplified transaction check. It can do this by sending a RuntimeCheckTxBatchRequest message. The runtime should perform the required non-expensive checks, but should not fully execute the transactions.

When a compute node receives a batch of transactions to process from the transaction scheduler executor, it passes the batch to the runtime via the RuntimeExecuteTxBatchRequest message. The runtime must execute the transactions in the given batch and produce a set of state changes (storage updates for the output and state roots). In case the runtime is running in a TEE the execution results must be signed by the Runtime Attestation Key (see above).


Key Manager Policy Update


The host can request the runtime to abort processing the current batch by sending the RuntimeAbortRequest message. The request does not take any arguments. In case the response does not indicate an error the abort is deemed successful by the host.

In case the runtime does not reply quickly enough the host may terminate the runtime and start a new instance.


RHP provides a way for runtimes to support custom protocol extensions by utilizing the RuntimeLocalRPCCallRequest and RuntimeLocalRPCCallResponse messages.


The following section describes the calls that a runtime can make to request processing from the host (or the wider distributed network on host's behalf).

EnclaveRPC to Remote Endpoints

Read-only Runtime Storage Access

The host exposes the MKVS read syncer interface (via the HostStorageSyncRequest message) to enable runtimes read-only access to global runtime storage.

Untrusted Local Storage Access

The host exposes a simple key-value local store that can be used by the runtime to store arbitrary instance-specific data. Note that if the runtime is running in a TEE this store must be treated as UNTRUSTED as the host may perform arbitrary attacks. The runtime should use TEE-specific sealing to ensure integrity and confidentiality of any stored data.

There are two local storage operations, namely get and set, exposed via HostLocalStorageGetRequest and HostLocalStorageSetRequest messages, respectively.