Correctness and Security at Odds: Post-silicon Validation of Modern SoC Designs

S. Ray, J. Yang, A. Basak, and S. Bhunia

In A. Cirkel, X. S. Hu, and R. Aitken editors, 52nd International ACM/EDAC/IEEE Design Automation Conference (DAC 2015), San Francisco, CA, USA, June 2015. ACM.

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We consider the conflicts between requirements from security and post-silicon validation in SoC designs. Post-silicon validation requires hardware instrumentations to provide observability and controllability during on-field execution; this in turn makes the system prone to security vulnerabilities, resulting in potentially subtle security exploits. Mitigating such threats while ensuring that the system is amenable to post-silicon validation is challenging, involving close collaboration among security, validation, testing, and computer architecture teams. We examine the state of the practice in this area, the trade-offs and compromises made, and their limitations. We also discuss an emerging approach that we are contemplating to address this problem.

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