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DARPA Wants to Include Scalable Defense Mechanisms into Chip Designs

• https://www.nextbigfuture.com, brian wang

With this rapid growth comes increased opportunity for economic and nation-state adversaries alike to shift their attention to chips that enable complex capabilities across commercial and defense applications. The consequences of a hardware cyberattack are significant as a compromise could potentially impact not millions, but billions of devices. Despite growing recognition of the issue, there are no common tools, methods, or solutions for chip-level security currently in wide use. This is largely driven by the economic hurdles and technical trade-offs often associated with secure chip design. Incorporating security into chips is a manual, expensive, and cumbersome task that requires significant time and a level of expertise that is not readily available in most chip and system companies. The inclusion of security also often requires certain trade-offs with the typical design objectives, such as size, performance, and power dissipation. Modern chip design methods are unforgiving – once a chip is designed, adding security after the fact or making changes to address newly discovered threats is nearly impossible. It can take six to nine months to design a modern chip but double that time if hardware design is made secure. DARPA is developing the Automatic Implementation of Secure Silicon (AISS) program. AISS aims to automate the process of incorporating scalable defense mechanisms into chip designs, while allowing designers to explore economics versus security trade-offs and maximize design productivity. The objective of the program is to develop a design tool and IP ecosystem – which includes tool vendors, chip developers, IP licensers, and the open source community – that will allow security to be inexpensively incorporated into chip designs with minimal effort and expertise, ultimately making scalable on-chip security pervasive. AISS seeks to create a novel, automated chip design flow that will allow the security mechanisms to scale consistently with the goals of the design.

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