Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2020/1083

A Fast and Compact RISC-V Accelerator for Ascon and Friends

Stefan Steinegger and Robert Primas

Abstract: Ascon-p is the core building block of Ascon, the winner in the lightweight category of the CAESAR competition. With ISAP, another Ascon-p-based AEAD scheme is currently competing in the 2nd round of the NIST lightweight cryptography standardization project. In contrast to Ascon, ISAP focuses on providing hardening/protection against a large class of implementation attacks, such as DPA, DFA, SFA, and SIFA, entirely on mode-level. Consequently, Ascon-p can be used to realize a wide range of cryptographic computations such as authenticated encryption, hashing, pseudorandom number generation, with or without the need for implementation security, which makes it the perfect choice for lightweight cryptography on embedded devices.

In this paper, we implement Ascon-p as an instruction extension for RISC-V that is tightly coupled to the processors register file and thus does not require any dedicated registers. This single instruction allows us to realize all cryptographic computations that typically occur on embedded devices with high performance. More concretely, with ISAP and Ascon's family of modes for AEAD and hashing, we can perform cryptographic computations with a performance of about 2 cycles/byte, or about 4 cycles/byte if protection against fault attacks and power analysis is desired.

As we show, our instruction extension requires only 4.7 kGE, or about half the area of dedicated Ascon co-processor designs, and is easy to integrate into low-end embedded devices like 32-bit ARM Cortex-M or RISC-V microprocessors. Finally, we analyze the provided implementation security of ISAP, when implemented using our instruction extension.

Category / Keywords: implementation / authenticated encryption, ascon, isap, hardware acceleration, risc-v, ri5cy, cv32e40p, side-channels, fault attacks, leakage resilience

Original Publication (with minor differences): CARDIS 2020

Date: received 8 Sep 2020, last revised 2 Oct 2020

Contact author: stefan steinegger at iaik tugraz at, robert primas@iaik tugraz at

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20201002:090722 (All versions of this report)

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