Cryptographic coprocessors for embedded systems

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Hamilton, Mark
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University College Cork
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In the field of embedded systems design, coprocessors play an important role as a component to increase performance. Many embedded systems are built around a small General Purpose Processor (GPP). If the GPP cannot meet the performance requirements for a certain operation, a coprocessor can be included in the design. The GPP can then offload the computationally intensive operation to the coprocessor; thus increasing the performance of the overall system. A common application of coprocessors is the acceleration of cryptographic algorithms. The work presented in this thesis discusses coprocessor architectures for various cryptographic algorithms that are found in many cryptographic protocols. Their performance is then analysed on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) platform. Firstly, the acceleration of Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) algorithms is investigated through the use of instruction set extension of a GPP. The performance of these algorithms in a full hardware implementation is then investigated, and an architecture for the acceleration the ECC based digital signature algorithm is developed. Hash functions are also an important component of a cryptographic system. The FPGA implementation of recent hash function designs from the SHA-3 competition are discussed and a fair comparison methodology for hash functions presented. Many cryptographic protocols involve the generation of random data, for keys or nonces. This requires a True Random Number Generator (TRNG) to be present in the system. Various TRNG designs are discussed and a secure implementation, including post-processing and failure detection, is introduced. Finally, a coprocessor for the acceleration of operations at the protocol level will be discussed, where, a novel aspect of the design is the secure method in which private-key data is handled
FPGA , Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) , TRNG , Hash functions , AES , SSL/TLS , Cryptography
Hamilton, M. 2014. Cryptographic coprocessors for embedded systems. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.