Spin Me Right Round Rotational Symmetry for FPGA-Specific AES: Extended Version

Felix Wegener, Lauren De Meyer, Amir Moradi

Journal of Cryptology volume 33, pages 1114–1155, 2020.


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 well-known 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 in 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 side-channel attacks. We introduce a generic methodology for masking any n-bit Boolean functions of degree t with protection order d. The methodology is exact for first-order and heuristic for higher orders. Its application to our new construction of the AES S-box allows us to improve previous results and introduce the smallest first-order masked AES implementation on Xilinx FPGAs, to date.


tags: AES, FPGA, masking, Side-Channel