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FPGA Side-Channel Receivers

Ji Sun, Ray Bittner, and Ken Eguro


The popularity of FPGAs is rapidly growing due to the unique advantages that they offer. However, their distinctive features also raise new questions concerning the security and communication capabilities of an FPGA-based hardware platform. In this paper, we explore some of the limits of FPGA side-channel communication. Specifically, we identify a previously unexplored capability that significantly increases both the potential benefits and risks associated with side-channel communication on an FPGA: an in-device receiver. We designed and implemented three new communication mechanisms: speed modulation, timing modulation and pin hijacking. These non-traditional interfacing techniques have the potential to provide reliable communication with an estimated maximum bandwidth of 3.3 bit/sec, 8 Kbits/sec, and 3.4 Mbits/sec, respectively.


Publication typeProceedings
Published inInternational Symposium on Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (Best Paper Award - Honorable Mention)
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