Paper 2021/530

Pre-silicon Architecture Correlation Analysis (PACA): Identifying and Mitigating the Source of Side-channel Leakage at Gate-level

Yuan Yao, Tuna Tufan, Tarun Kathuria, Baris Ege, Ulkuhan Guler, and Patrick Schaumont


While side-channel leakage is traditionally evaluated from a fabricated chip, it is more time-efficient and cost-effective to do so during the design phase of the chip. We present Pre-silicon Architecture Correlation Analysis (PACA), a hardware design analysis methodology to help designer locate and mitigate the vulnerabilities in the design at an early design stage. PACA first ranks the individual cells in a design netlist according to their contribution to the estimated side-channel leakage and points out the leaky cells. Next, we further reduce the side-channel leakage by selective replacement of the highest-leaking cells in the design with a side-channel protection version. We demonstrate that PACA’s selective replacement can significantly reduce the overhead of the countermeasure, since traditionally countermeasures are applied to the whole design. We first use a simple circuit to introduce and demonstrate the effectiveness of PACA. Then we further demonstrate that PACA can also handle complex designs by applying the overall methodology of PACA on an AES coprocessor, a PRESENT hardware cipher, and on a complex SoC. We demonstrate it is an achievable goal in the modern IC design flow to locate and mitigate the leakage source with low cost.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
Side-channel leakage DetectionNetlist AnalysisSide-channel leakage sourceDesign-time Analysis
Contact author(s)
yuan9 @ vt edu
2021-04-23: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Yuan Yao and Tuna Tufan and Tarun Kathuria and Baris Ege and Ulkuhan Guler and Patrick Schaumont},
      title = {Pre-silicon Architecture Correlation Analysis ({PACA}): Identifying and Mitigating the Source of Side-channel Leakage at Gate-level},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/530},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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