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Paper 2018/724

Rethinking Secure FPGAs: Towards a Cryptography-friendly Configurable Cell Architecture and its Automated Design Flow

Nele Mentens, Edoardo Charbon, and Francesco Regazzoni


This work proposes the first fine-grained configurable cell array specifically tailored for cryptographic implementations. The proposed architecture can be added to future FPGAs as an application-specific configurable building block, or to an ASIC as an embedded FPGA (eFPGA). The goal is to map cryptographic ciphers on combinatorial cells that are more efficient than general purpose lookup tables in terms of silicon area, configuration memory and combinatorial delay. As a first step in this research direction, we focus on block ciphers and we derive the most suitable cell structure for mapping state-of-the-art algorithms. We develop the related automated design flow, exploiting the synthesis capabilities of Synopsys Design Compiler and the routing capabilities of Xilinx ISE. Our solution is the first cryptography-oriented fine-grained architecture that can be configured using common hardware description languages. We evaluate the performance of our solution by mapping a number of well-known block ciphers onto our new cells. The obtained results show that our proposed architecture drastically outperforms commercial FPGAs in terms of silicon area and configuration memory resources, while obtaining a similar throughput.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published elsewhere. Major revision. 26th IEEE International Symposium on Field-Programmable Custom Computing Machines
Contact author(s)
regazzoni @ alari ch
2018-08-16: revised
2018-08-07: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Nele Mentens and Edoardo Charbon and Francesco Regazzoni},
      title = {Rethinking Secure FPGAs: Towards a Cryptography-friendly Configurable Cell Architecture and its Automated Design Flow},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2018/724},
      year = {2018},
      note = {\url{https://eprint.iacr.org/2018/724}},
      url = {https://eprint.iacr.org/2018/724}
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