Paper 2019/184

Face-off between the CAESAR Lightweight Finalists: ACORN vs. Ascon

William Diehl, Farnoud Farahmand, Abubakr Abdulgadir, Jens-Peter Kaps, and Kris Gaj


Authenticated ciphers potentially provide resource savings and security improvements over the joint use of secret-key ciphers and message authentication codes. The CAESAR competition has aimed to choose the most suitable authenticated ciphers for several categories of applications, including a lightweight use case, for which the primary criteria are performance in resource-constrained devices, and ease of protection against side channel attacks (SCA). In March 2018, two of the candidates from this category, ACORN and Ascon, were selected as CAESAR contest finalists. In this research, we compare two SCA-resistant FPGA implementations of ACORN and Ascon, where one set of implementations has area consumption nearly equivalent to the defacto standard AES-GCM, and the other set has throughput (TP) close to that of AES-GCM. The results show that protected implementations of ACORN and Ascon, with area consumption less than but close to AES-GCM, have 23.3 and 2.5 times, respectively, the TP of AES-GCM. Likewise, implementations of ACORN and Ascon with TP greater than but close to AES-GCM, consume 18 percent and 74 percent of the area, respectively, of AES-GCM.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. Major revision. 2018 International Conference on Field Programmable Technology
Side-channelDPACAESARauthenticated ciphercountermeasureFPGAFOBOS
Contact author(s)
wdiehl @ vt edu
2019-03-04: revised
2019-02-26: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {William Diehl and Farnoud Farahmand and Abubakr Abdulgadir and Jens-Peter Kaps and Kris Gaj},
      title = {Face-off between the CAESAR Lightweight Finalists: ACORN vs. Ascon},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2019/184},
      year = {2019},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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