Paper 2020/1192

Architecture Correlation Analysis (ACA): Identifying the Source of Side-channel Leakage at Gate-level

Yuan Yao, Tarun Kathuria, Baris Ege, and Patrick Schaumont


Power-based side-channel leakage is a known problem in the design of security-centric electronic systems. As the complexity of modern systems rapidly increases through the use of System-on-Chip (SoC) integration, it becomes difficult to determine the precise source of the side-channel leakage. Designers of secure SoC must therefore proactively apply expensive countermeasures to protect entire subsystems such as encryption modules, and this increases the design cost of the chip. We propose a methodology to determine, at design time, the source of side-channel leakage with much greater accuracy, at the granularity of a single cell. Our methodology, Architecture Correlation Analysis, uses a leakage model, well known from differential side-channel analysis techniques, to rank the cells within a netlist according to their contribution to the side-channel leakage. With this analysis result, the designer can selectively apply countermeasures where they are most effective. We demonstrate Architecture Correlation Analysis (ACA) on an AES coprocessor in an SoC design, and we determine the sources of side-channel leakage at the gate-level within the AES module as well as within the overall SoC. We validate ACA by demonstrating its use in an optimized hiding countermeasure.

Note: This paper has been accepted as the full paper in the IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST)

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published elsewhere. HOST conference
Side-channel leakage DetectionNetlist AnalysisSide-channel leakage sourceDesign-time Analysis
Contact author(s)
yuan9 @ vt edu
2020-09-30: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Yuan Yao and Tarun Kathuria and Baris Ege and Patrick Schaumont},
      title = {Architecture Correlation Analysis (ACA): Identifying the Source of Side-channel Leakage at Gate-level},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2020/1192},
      year = {2020},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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