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Riscure Contributes to DARPA's Pre-Silicon Research Program

Author: Riscure Team

In 2023 Riscure has contributed to the SCATE project (Side Channel Attack Testbench Emulator), a program funded by DARPA, the US research and development agency. The goal of this recently concluded project was to develop a framework that strengthens the resistance of Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) against side channel attacks, and thus significantly reduce the costs associated with creating side channel-resistant ASICs.

The key solution for this challenge is pre-silicon simulation, a means of identifying potential leakage of secrets in silicon during the design stage.

The research focus areas of the SCATE project were:
1) Verifying whether the simulation is realistic & quick enough to identify actual leakage in silicon within a reasonable timeframe,
2) Finding a way to adjust countermeasures such that they reach the desired level of security and,
3) Integrating this into a design flow so chip designers without extensive security expertise can develop resilient chips without resorting to multiple tapeouts.

This research initiative brought together Riscure (in partnership with Intrinsix Corp., a reputable ASICs design expert) and a powerful consortium, comprising of academic institutions Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Purdue University. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is an agency of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) responsible for the development of emerging technologies and cutting-edge research projects. DARPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, under which the project was funded, seeks to stimulate technological innovation by engaging small businesses and fostering state-of-the-art solutions to solve national security challenges.

The SCATE project helped bridge the gap between the pre-silicon & post-silicon stages allowing chip designers to find & mitigate security vulnerabilities in each stage of the design cycle. This early detection allows for swift and precise countermeasure implementation, enabling designers to mitigate security issues right at the source, reducing the risk of costly reiterations and time-consuming post-silicon adjustments. The expertise contributed to this research effort by Riscure is also available in a commercial Inspector Pre-Silicon solution.

In this research, Riscure has affirmed the value of pre-silicon analysis as a valuable instrument for creating more secure hardware designs. This analysis not only aids software developers in identifying vulnerable sections of code but also plays a crucial role in optimizing post-silicon measurements. Riscure’s contribution to a variety of research efforts worldwide improves the accessibility of the latest device security technology to a wider range of audiences. Such collaboration also ensures that cutting-edge mitigation and remediation approaches are available to Riscure tools customers.

If you’re interested in exploring more information about pre-silicon approach and its benefits as well as Riscure Pre-Silicon product, contact our team directly at inforequest@riscure.com.

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