Paper 2015/871

Photonic Side Channel Analysis of Arbiter PUFs

Shahin Tajik, Enrico Dietz, Sven Frohmann, Helmar Dittrich, Dmitry Nedospasov, Clemens Helfmeier, Jean-Pierre Seifert, Christian Boit, and Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers


As intended by its name, Physically Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are considered as an ultimate solution to deal with insecure storage, hardware counterfeiting, and many other security problems. However, many different successful attacks have already revealed vulnerabilities of certain digital intrinsic PUFs. This paper demonstrates that legacy arbiter PUF and its popular extended versions (i.e., Feed-forward and XOR-enhanced) can be completely and linearly characterized by means of photonic emission analysis. Our experimental setup is capable of measuring every PUF-internal delay with a resolution of 6 picoseconds. Due to this resolution we indeed require only the theoretical minimum number of linear independent equations (i.e., physical measurements) to directly solve the underlying inhomogeneous linear system. Moreover, it is not required to know the actual PUF responses for our physical delay extraction. We present our practical results for an arbiter PUF implementation on a Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) manufactured with a 180 nanometer process. Finally, we give an insight into photonic emission analysis of arbiter PUF on smaller chip architectures by performing experiments on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) manufactured with a 60 nanometer process.

Available format(s)
Publication info
A minor revision of an IACR publication in JOC 2016
Physically Unclonable FunctionArbiter PUFPhotonic emission analysisPhysical characterization
Contact author(s)
stajik @ sec t-labs tu-berlin de
2016-02-21: revised
2015-09-13: received
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      author = {Shahin Tajik and Enrico Dietz and Sven Frohmann and Helmar Dittrich and Dmitry Nedospasov and Clemens Helfmeier and Jean-Pierre Seifert and Christian Boit and Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers},
      title = {Photonic Side Channel Analysis of Arbiter PUFs},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2015/871},
      year = {2015},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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