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An Automated Pre-Silicon IP Trustworthiness Assessment For Hardware Assurance

Using automated tools that scan the IP RTL code to detect suspicious or unusual code patterns and known Trojan signatures.

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Paper presented by Sergio Marchese & John Hallman of OneSpin Solutions & The Aerospace Corporation.

Integrated circuit designs include in-house and third-party intellectual properties that could contain hardware Trojans. An independent, trusted, and complete IP model, suitable for automated formal comparison with the IP register-transfer level (RTL) code using commercially available tools, may be used to prove absence of Trojans. Such models are generally not available, except for certain critical IPs, as, for example, RISC-V processor cores. The development of these models may be costly and time-consuming. This paper proposes an IP trustworthiness assessment process that does not require a trusted model. The approach uses automated tools that scan the IP RTL code to detect suspicious or unusual code patterns and known Trojan signatures. This low-effort, objective assessment may detect Trojans and provide warnings that, depending on the specific project circumstances, may require additional investigation. The approach is demonstrated on numerous open-source and proprietary test designs containing hardware Trojans.

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