Probing Attacks Against Chiplets


A technical paper titled “Evaluating Vulnerability of Chiplet-Based Systems to Contactless Probing Techniques” was published by researchers at University of Massachusetts and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


“Driven by a need for ever increasing chip performance and inclusion of innovative features, a growing number of semiconductor companies are opting for all-inclusive System-on-Chip (SoC) architectures. Although Moore’s Law has been able to keep up with the demand for more complex logic, manufacturing large dies still poses a challenge. Increasingly the solution adopted to minimize the impact of silicon defects on manufacturing yield has been to split a design into multiple smaller dies called chiplets which are then brought together on a silicon interposer. Advanced 2.5D and 3D packaging techniques that enable this kind of integration also promise increased power efficiency and opportunities for heterogeneous integration.
However, despite their advantages, chiplets are not without issues. Apart from manufacturing challenges that come with new packaging techniques, disaggregating a design into multiple logically and physically separate dies introduces new threats, including the possibility of tampering with and probing exposed data lines. In this paper we evaluate the exposure of chiplets to probing by applying laser contactless probing techniques to a chiplet-based AMD/Xilinx VU9P FPGA. First, we identify and map interposer wire drivers and show that probing them is easier compared to probing internal nodes. Lastly, we demonstrate that delay-based sensors, which can be used to protect against physical probes, are insufficient to protect against laser probing as the delay change due to laser probing is only 0.792ps even at 100% laser power.”

Find the technical paper here. Published May 2024 (preprint).

Deric, Aleksa, Kyle Mitard, Shahin Tajik, and Daniel Holcomb. “Evaluating Vulnerability of Chiplet-Based Systems to Contactless Probing Techniques.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2405.14821 (2024).

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