ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Embedded systems

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Patrick Schaumont is also working to identify small variances in commodity FPGAs, which would prove valuable to the creation of physical unclonable functions. Read more at “Unlocking the secrets of the Spartan boards

On-chip fingerprints

Patrick Schaumont and Leyla Nazhandali are working with Inyoung Kim of Statistics to create trustworthy electronic hardware fingerprints based on random variations that occur during chip manufacturing. These random variations between and within chips of the same model have potential application in pervasive authentication mechanisms. Such physical unclonable functions (PUFs) can be neither reproduced or tampered with and could serve as unique, reliable, and uniform fingerprints, regardless of environmental conditions such as age, temperature, and electrical variance.

However, the issues of scalability, cost, stability, and threats of reverse engineering have not been fully investigated, according to Schaumont. The ECE professors are working with Kim to develop a comprehensive approach that combines the latest techniques in statistics, architecture design, and circuit design. The team will validate their statistical models by implementing prototype on-chip fingerprints on both FPGAs and ASICs. Ultimately, they hope to create cost-effective physical unclonable functions that are unaffected by environmental factors like aging, noise, and voltage.