Amorphous Soft-Core Processor for Hardware Anti-Tamper

Period of Performance: 01/30/2006 - 07/31/2006

$120K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The loss of technological advantage due to the tamper and reverse engineering of digital computing hardware is a growing concern for the United States Army. Active and passive anti-tamper mechanisms, such as epoxy resins, connoisseur coating, VLSI circuit layout obfuscation, chemical-mechanical planarization, power and voltage variation detection circuits, tamper sensors, and data remanence solutions, have been employed in recent years with varied effectiveness. The static nature of the underlying hardware makes tamper attack methods quickly definable and limited only by the equipment, expertise, and time available the attacker. For the U.S. Army, the attacker might be a well-funded foreign government for whom equipment, finances, and personnel are not significantly limited. Methods need to be developed that significantly increase the cost and complexity of an effective attack. Luna Innovations will develop an amorphous soft-core processor as a hardware tamper-resistance solution for FPGAs. The focus will be on developing hardware anti-tamper protection for FPGAs because their unique run-time reconfigurable characteristics will enable novel hardware anti-tamper protections. Since FPGAs are now capable of general purpose computing, digital signal processing, high-speed encryption, and high-performance custom computing, a successful FPGA-based anti-tamper technique would have far-reaching applications to a myriad of Army computing systems.