Security Evaluation of Asynchronous Circuits

Abstract

Balanced asynchronous circuits have been touted as a superior replacement for conventional synchronous circuits. To assess these claims, we have designed, manufactured and tested an experimental asynchronous smart-card style device. In this paper we describe the tests performed and show that asynchronous circuits can provide better tamper-resistance. However, we have also discovered weaknesses with our test chip, some of which have resulted in new designs, and others which are more fundamental to the asynchronous design approach. This has led us to investigate the novel approach of design-time security analysis rather than rely on post manufacture analysis.