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Title: Mixed radix design flow for security applications
Authors: Rafiev, Ashur
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The purpose of secure devices, such as smartcards, is to protect sensitive information against software and hardware attacks. Implementation of the appropriate protection techniques often implies non-standard methods that are not supported by the conventional design tools. In the recent decade the designers of secure devices have been working hard on customising the workflow. The presented research aims at collecting the up-to-date experiences in this area and create a generic approach to the secure design flow that can be used as guidance by engineers. Well-known countermeasures to hardware attacks imply the use of specific signal encodings. Therefore, multi-valued logic has been considered as a primary aspect of the secure design. The choice of radix is crucial for multi-valued logic synthesis. Practical examples reveal that it is not always possible to find the optimal radix when taking into account actual physical parameters of multi-valued operations. In other words, each radix has its advantages and disadvantages. Our proposal is to synthesise logic in different radices, so it could benefit from their combination. With respect to the design opportunities of the existing tools and the possibilities of developing new tools that would fill the gaps in the flow, two distinct design approaches have been formed: conversion driven design and pre-synthesis. The conversion driven design approach takes the outputs of mature and time-proven electronic design automation (EDA) synthesis tools to generate mixed radix datapath circuits in an endeavour to investigate the added relative advantages or disadvantages. An algorithm underpinning the approach is presented and formally described together with secure gate-level implementations. The obtained results are reported showing an increase in power consumption, thus giving further motivation for the second approach. The pre-synthesis approach is aimed at improving the efficiency by using multivalued logic synthesis techniques to produce an abstract component-level circuit before mapping it into technology libary. Reed-Muller expansions over Galois field arithmetic have been chosen as a theoretical foundation for this approach. In order to enable the combination of radices at the mathematical level, the multi-valued Reed-Muller expansions have been developed into mixed radix Reed-Muller expansions. The goals of the work is to estimate the potential of the new approach and to analyse its impact on circuit parameters down to the level of physical gates. The benchmark results show the approach extends the search space for optimisation and provides information on how the implemented functions are related to different radices. The theory of two-level radix models and corresponding computation methods are the primary theoretical contribution. It has been implemented in RMMixed tool and interfaced to the standard EDA tools to form a complete security-aware design flow.
Description: Ph.D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering

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