Microsemi’s SmartFusion2 Secure Boot Solution Addresses Side Channel Analysis Vulnerabilities in Competitors’ FPGAs Requiring External Configuration

Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, today announced it has completed differential power analysis (DPA) testing on its secure boot field programmable gate array (FPGA) solution, which resolves side channel vulnerabilities inherent in the configuration process of large static random-access memory (SRAM) FPGAs. The DPA testing was completed using the Test Vector Leakage Assessment (TVLA) methodology developed by Cryptography Research Incorporated (CRI), a division of Rambus. Results of the testing show Microsemi’s secure boot solution has sufficient design margin to protect against side channel attacks. TVLA was developed to address the shortcomings of evaluation-based testing in this field. Rather than focusing on key extraction, which may depend heavily on the expertise of the evaluator, TVLA is based on a statistical approach to derive an objective pass/fail score on the underlying system’s information leakage.

Microsemi’s secure boot SRAM FPGA reference design is ideal for systems with requirements for high value intellectual property (IP) protection, including mitigations against side-channel attacks. Key applications include protection of high value commercial and critical infrastructure systems from cloning and reverse engineering. All commercially available SRAM FPGAs on the market today are susceptible to DPA and other related side-channel attacks, which can expose the bitstream decryption key and risk loss of valuable IP. Microsemi’s secure boot FPGA solution uses the company’s SmartFusion®2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGA to securely load target SRAM FPGAs, with all cryptographic processing performed in a DPA-safe manner. All cryptographic processing IP in the solution includes pass-through licenses from CRI for both the SmartFusion2 host and target FPGA platforms.

“Microsemi’s secure boot solution ensures confidentiality and authentication of an underlying system design by leveraging the high security of our SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs as a root-of-trust,” said Paul Quintana, director of vertical marketing for defense, security and computing at Microsemi. “Having a strong root-of-trust is often a critical element to protect and assure a design has not been modified.”

This technology is ideal for the defense and security market, as defense-grade systems often have requirements for anti-tamper to protect against reverse engineering of the underlying technology. This is a crucial requirement, especially for systems purposed for foreign military sales (FMS). Microsemi is currently engaged with leading defense contractors to implement this technology.

According to Strategy Analytics, global spending on RF-based electronic warfare (EW) systems is forecast to grow to more than $9.3 billion through 2022. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service forecast model, “Airborne EW (EA) Systems and Components Forecast 2012-2022,” predicts a future shift towards reestablishing airborne EW capabilities that counter anti-access, area-denial systems will translate into spending on airborne EW systems—accounting for over 35 percent of this global spending.

Key features of the secure boot SRAM FPGA reference design include:

  • SmartFusion2 security uniquely qualifies it as root-of-trust
  • Mitigates DPA/SPA configuration vulnerabilities of large SRAM FPGAs where anti-tamper is required
  • Minimal impact to existing system architecture
  • Licensed physically unclonable function (PUF) technology from Instrincic-ID allows for unique binding to a target component
  • Only requires a simple user eligibility certification to use DPA patents licensed by Microsemi from Cryptography Research

About Differential Power Analysis
DPA is an insidious and powerful technique hackers use to extract secrets such as cryptographic keys from an electronic device by externally monitoring the instantaneous power consumed by the device while it is operating. Microsemi’s secure boot technology is a highly effective security measure that ensures a programmable device is executing an authentic code that has not been tampered with or altered.

About SmartFusion2
SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs integrate inherently reliable flash-based FPGA fabric, a 166 megahertz (MHz) ARM Cortex-M3 processor, advanced security processing accelerators, DSP blocks, SRAM, eNVM and industry-required high performance communication interfaces, all on a single chip. Microsemi’s SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs are designed to address fundamental requirements for advanced security, high reliability and low power in critical communications, industrial, defense, aviation and medical applications.

Product Availability
The results of Microsemi’s DPA testing were presented recently at the Anti-Tamper National Forum in Baltimore. Reference designs and user guides are available now, including an evaluation model, full customizable reference designs and design services. For more information, visit http://www.microsemi.com/products/fpga-soc/security/secure-boot-fpga or contact Microsemi at sales.support@microsemi.com.

About Microsemi
Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC) offers a comprehensive portfolio of semiconductor and system solutions for communications, defense & security, aerospace and industrial markets. Products include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed-signal integrated circuits, FPGAs, SoCs and ASICs; power management products; timing and synchronization devices and precise time solutions, setting the world’s standard for time; voice processing devices; RF solutions; discrete components; security technologies and scalable anti-tamper products; Ethernet solutions; Power-over-Ethernet ICs and midspans; as well as custom design capabilities and services. Microsemi is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, Calif, and has approximately 3,600 employees globally. Learn more at www.microsemi.com.

Contact Information

Microsemi Corporation

One Enterprise
Aliso Viejo, CA , 92656

tele: (800) 713-4113
fax: (949) 215-4996

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