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Project Brief

NIST Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants


Develop a fair and comprehensive methodology and environment to evaluate and compare (benchmark) the performance of competing cryptographic algorithms when implemented in hardware devices, such as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (electronic devices customized for a particular use, such as secure mobile communications), Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (electronic devices such as those used in defense systems whose specific functions are configured after delivery to customers), and microprocessors (electronic devices at the heart of modern general-purpose computers).

RECIPIENT: George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

  • Project duration: 3 Years
  • Total NIST Funding: $1,496,655
Plans for cryptographic deployment on a wide variety of platforms, ranging from tiny RFID devices to busy Internet servers, are often derailed by the reality of inadequate software or hardware performance. Information regarding performance plays a critical role in standardization of cryptographic functions, and in selection of the preferred platforms, development tools, and hardware architectures for cryptography. Unfortunately, many evaluations of new cryptographic functions have biased performance testing, and even unbiased testing is often too limited to produce a true assessment of what performance can be expected in a variety of situations. In this project, the researchers will extend existing cryptographic benchmarking efforts into field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and develop a joint methodology and a single unified collaborative environment for benchmarking software, FPGA, and ASIC implementations of cryptography. The environment will be used to evaluate candidates submitted to NIST's SHA-3 contest for a new hash function standard, used as a basis for future secure digital signature schemes. The environment will be available to the entire cryptographic community, allowing researchers to fairly, comprehensively, and automatically compare their new cryptographic algorithms, hardware architectures, and optimization methods against previous work.

Public contact (for project information):

Chris LaPaille, 703-993-8860

Project Partners: Virginia Tech, University of Illinois at Chicago

NIST Program Office Contact:

Jason Boehm, 301-975-8678