This library combines a set of low-level API functions which talk to the Cryptech FPGA cores with a set of higher-level functions providing various cryptographic services.

There's some overlap between the low-level code here and the low-level code in core/platform/novena, which will need sorting out some day, but at the time this library forked that code, the core/platform/novena code was all written to support a test harness rather than a higher-level API.

Current contents of the library:

  • Low-level I/O code (EIM and I2C).

  • An implementation of AES Key Wrap using the Cryptech AES core.

  • An interface to the Cryptech CSPRNG.

  • An interface to the Cryptech hash cores, including HMAC.

  • An implementation of PBKDF2.

  • An implementation of RSA using the Cryptech ModExp core.

  • An implementation of ECDSA, currently entirely in software.

  • Test code for all of the above.

Most of these are fairly well self-contained, although the PBKDF2 implementation uses the hash-core-based HMAC implementation.

The major exceptions are the RSA and ECDSA implementations, which uses an external bignum implementation (libtfm) to handle a lot of the arithmetic. In the long run, much or all of this may end up being implemented in Verilog, but for the moment all of the RSA math except for modular exponentiation is happening in software, as is all of the math for ECDSA.


The RSA implementation includes a compile-time option to bypass the ModExp core and do everything in software, because the ModExp core is a tad slow at the moment (others are hard at work fixing this).

The RSA implementation includes optional blinding (enabled by default) and just enough ASN.1 code to read and write private keys; the expectation is that the latter will be used in combination with the AES Key Wrap code.


The ECDSA implementation is specific to the NIST prime curves P-256, P-384, and P-521.

The ECDSA implementation includes a compile-time option to allow test code to bypass the CSPRNG in order to test against known test vectors. Do NOT enable this in production builds, as ECDSA depends on good random numbers not just for private keys but for individual signatures, and an attacker who knows the random number used for a particular signature can use this to recover the private key. Arguably, this option should be removed from the code entirely, once the implementation is stable.

The ECDSA implementation includes enough ASN.1 to read and write ECDSA signatures and ECDSA private keys in RFC 5915 format; the expectation is that the latter will be used in combination with AES Key Wrap.

The ECDSA implementation attempts to be constant-time, to reduce the risk of timing channel attacks. The algorithms chosen for the point arithmetic are a tradeoff between speed and code complexity, and can probably be improved upon even in software; reimplementing at least the field arithmetic in hardware would probably also help.

The current point addition and point doubling algorithms come from the EFD. At least at the moment, we're only interested in ECDSA with the NIST prime curves, so we use algorithms optimized for a=-3.

The point multiplication algorithm is a straightforward double-and-add loop, which is not the fastest possible algorithm, but is relatively easy to confirm by inspection as being constant-time within the limits imposed by the NIST curves. Point multiplication could probably be made faster by using a non-adjacent form (NAF) representation for the scalar, but the author doesn't yet understand that well enough to implement it as a constant-time algorithm. In theory, changing to a NAF representation could be done without any change to the public API.

Points stored in keys and curve parameters are in affine format, but point arithmetic is performed in Jacobian projective coordinates, with the coordinates themselves in Montgomery form; final mapping back to affine coordinates also handles the final Montgomery reduction.


Yeah, we ought to document the API, Real Soon Now, perhaps using Doxygen. For the moment, see the function prototypes in hal.h and comments in the code.