Spin Me Right Round - Rotational Symmetry for FPGA-Specific AES

Lauren De Meyer, Amir Moradi, Felix Wegener

IACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems, Vol. 2018, No. 3, pp 596-626, 2018. (presentation at CHES 2018, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 9 – 12, 2018)


The effort in reducing the area of AES implementations has largely been focused on Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) in which a tower field construction leads to a small design of the AES S-box. In contrast, a naive implementation of the AES S-box has been the status-quo on Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). A similar discrepancy holds for masking schemes – a wellknown side-channel analysis countermeasure – which are commonly optimized to achieve minimal area in ASICs. In this paper we demonstrate a representation of the AES S-box exploiting rotational symmetry which leads to a 50% reduction of the area footprint on FPGA devices. We present new AES implementations which improve on the state of the art and explore various trade-offs between area and latency. For instance, at the cost of increasing 4.5 times the latency, one of our design variants requires 25% less look-up tables (LUTs) than the smallest known AES on Xilinx FPGAs by Sasdrich and Güneysu at ASAP 2016. We further explore the protection of such implementations against first-order side-channel analysis attacks. Targeting the small area footprint on FPGAs, we introduce a heuristic-based algorithm to find a masking of a given function with d + 1 shares. Its application to our new construction of the AES S-box allows us to introduce the smallest masked AES implementation on Xilinx FPGAs, to-date.

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tags: AES, FPGA, masking, Side-Channel