Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2019/1368

Efficient FPGA Implementations of LowMC and Picnic

Daniel Kales and Sebastian Ramacher and Christian Rechberger and Roman Walch and Mario Werner

Abstract: Post-quantum cryptography has received increased attention in recent years, in particular, due to the standardization effort by NIST. One of the second-round candidates in the NIST post-quantum standardization project is Picnic, a post-quantum secure signature scheme based on efficient zero-knowledge proofs of knowledge. In this work, we present the first FPGA implementation of Picnic. We show how to efficiently calculate LowMC, the block cipher used as a one-way function in Picnic, in hardware despite the large number of constants needed during computation. We then combine our LowMC implementation and efficient instantiations of Keccak to build the full Picnic algorithm. Additionally, we conform to recently proposed hardware interfaces for post-quantum schemes to enable easier comparisons with other designs. We provide evaluations of our Picnic implementation for both, the standalone design and a version wrapped with a PCIe interface, and compare them to the state-of-the-art software implementations of Picnic and similar hardware designs. Concretely, signing messages on our FPGA takes 0.25 ms for the L1 security level and 1.24 ms for the L5 security level, beating existing optimized software implementations by a factor of 4.

Category / Keywords: implementation / LowMC, FPGA, digital signatures, NIST PQC, Picnic

Original Publication (in the same form): CT-RSA 2020

Date: received 27 Nov 2019

Contact author: daniel kales at iaik tugraz at, sebastian ramacher at ait ac at, christian rechberger at iaik tugraz at, roman walch at iaik tugraz at, mario werner at iaik tugraz at

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20191128:080257 (All versions of this report)

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