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An Exploration of Mechanisms for Dynamic Cryptographic Instruction Set Extension

Philipp Grabher, Johann Gro??sch??dl, Simon Hoerder, Kimmo Jarvinen, Dan Page, Stefan Tillich, Marcin W??jcik, An Exploration of Mechanisms for Dynamic Cryptographic Instruction Set Extension. CSTR-11-004, Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol. August 2011. PDF, 237 Kbytes.

Abstract

Instruction Set Extensions (ISEs) supplement a host processor with special-purpose, typically fixed-function hardware components and instructions to utilize them. For cryptographic use-cases, this can be very effective due to the demand for non-standard or niche operations that are not supported by general-purpose architectures. However, one disadvantage of fixed-function ISEs is inflexibility, contradicting a need for "algorithm agility." This paper explores a new approach, namely the provision of re-configurable mechanisms to support dynamic (run-time changeable) ISEs. Our results, obtained using an FPGA-based LEON3 prototype, show that this approach provides a flexible general-purpose platform for cryptographic ISEs with all known advantages of previous work, but relies on careful analysis of the associated security issues.

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