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A Unified-Multiplier Based Hardware Architecture for Elliptic Curve Cryptography

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Top: Simplified block diagram of the final hardware architecture attached to the Orion microprocessor (redesigned OpenRISC architecture). Bottom: Layout of the final chip called Halley.

Short Description

An application-specific instruction-set processor (ASIP) tailored to verify digital signatures according to the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) based on the NIST B-233 standard was developed. The resulting chip, called Halley, features a 16-bit wide unified datapath for both the binary and prime finite-field arithmetic, required to finish an ECDSA signature verification. It hosts a 2KB dual-port memory for data storage and a 6KB single-port instruction memory. A two-stage finite-state machine (FSM) controlling approach is used to realize the finite-field arithmetic. Moreover, the top-level controlling entity is made up by a programmable control unit, which realizes the elliptic-curve-specific operations. Halley finishes digital signature verification at its maximum frequency of 167Mhz within about 1.9Mcycles, meanwhile consuming an average power of 70mW.

In addition to the "pseudo-processor-controlled approach", the finite-field arithmetic supporting datapath was combined with an OpenRISC microprocessor, thereby enabling accelerated ECDSA verification on a general purpose CPU.

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