Reconfigurable Instruction Set Extension for enabling ECC on an 8-bit Processor

Sandeep Kumar, Chris­tof Paar

International Conference on Field-Programmable Logic and Applications (FPL) 2004, Antwerp, Belgium, August 30 - September 1, 2004.


Pervasive networks with low-cost embedded 8-bit processors are set to change our day-to-day life. Public-key cryptography provides crucial functionality to assure security which is often an important requirement in pervasive applications. However, it has been the hardest to implement on constraint platforms due to its very high computational requirements. This contribution describes a proof-of-concept implementation for an extremely low-cost instruction set extension using recon?gurable logic, which enables an 8-bit micro-controller to provide full size elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) capabilities. Introducing full size public-key security mechanisms on such small embedded devices will allow new pervasive applications. We show that a standard compliant 163-bit point multiplication can be computed in 0.113 sec on an 8-bit AVR micro-controller running at 4 Mhz with minimal extra hardware, a typical representative for a low-cost pervasive processor. Our design not only accelerates the computation by a factor of more than 30 compared to a software-only solution, it also reduces the code-size, data-RAM and power requirements.