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Enclave modes

Enclave modes

Conclave enclaves can be used in one of four modes, in order of increasing realism:

Mode What it is What it's for
Mock Your enclave class is created in the host JVM and no native or SGX specific code is used. This provides a pure Java development experience that is fully supported on all platforms. See Mock Mode for more details.
Simulation The enclave is compiled to native machine code and loaded, but SGX hardware does not need to be present. This allows you to check that your enclave can be successfully compiled and run as a native binary that is separate from the host JVM, but without needing access to SGX hardware.
Debug The enclave is loaded using SGX hardware and drivers, but with a back door that allows debugger access to the memory. This mode extends simulation mode by also allowing you to verify that your application works as expected when exposed to the constraints of an SGX environment.
Release The enclave is loaded using SGX hardware and drivers, and there's no back door. This is the real deal!

Mock mode is supported on all platforms and is all you need to get started developing Conclave apps! Eventually, you will need to use additional modes for testing and deployment.

Only release mode locks out the host and provides the standard SGX security model.

System requirements

The table below summarizes which modes can be used in which environments.

OS Mock Simulation Debug Release
Linux ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
macOS ✔ ✔ ✖ ✖
Windows ✔ ✔ ✖ ✖


: Using WSL or Docker. For instructions on running simulation mode enclaves on Windows or macOS using Docker, see the Running hello world tutorial.

Due to overheads involved with file IO in docker, Windows and macOS builds using docker may run slower than those in native Linux environments.

The requirements for building and running enclaves in each mode are described below.

Mock mode

All that is required to build and run Conclave projects in mock mode is a Java 8 or 11 JDK. See JDK Compatibility for more details.

Simulation mode

  • Install Docker and ensure it has been added to the PATH environment variable.
  • Conclave automatically uses Docker to create a Linux build environment for building enclaves.
  • We recommend allocating at least 6GB of memory to Docker.

We've provided instructions on how to run the hello-world sample in simulation mode with Docker in the tutorials.

Make sure the C++ compiler gcc is installed. If your build system uses the aptitude package manager then you can install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install build-essential


If your enclave uses reflection and/or Java serialization, some additional configuration files may be required when advancing from mock mode to other modes. See Conclave configuration options and Assisted configuration of Native Image Builds for more details.

Debug and release mode

There are no additional requirements for building debug and release mode enclaves on any platform.

We test building and running release-mode enclaves on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Server x86-64.

Running debug and release mode enclaves is not possible on macOS or Windows.

Running debug and release mode enclaves requires SGX hardware and an installation of the intel SGX driver stack. See machine setup for instructions.

Please be sure that the environment variable SGX_AESM_ADDR is not set. Failing to do so will prevent the enclave from starting up.

Set the enclave mode

You can choose the mode when declaring a dependency on an enclave module in Gradle. For example, you might add the following to your host build.gradle:

dependencies {
    runtimeOnly project(path: ":enclave", configuration: "simulation")


In the Conclave samples, we define a Gradle property enclaveMode in the host build.gradle which allows us to set the mode from the command line using the -PenclaveMode parameter.

def mode = findProperty("enclaveMode")?.toString()?.toLowerCase() ?: "mock"

dependencies {
    runtimeOnly project(path: ":enclave", configuration: mode)
This allows us to default to mock mode for fast, iterative development, whilst retaining the ability to use other modes as necessary.