Architectural Supports for Block Ciphers in a RISC CPU Core by Instruction Overloading

P. Choi, W. Kong, J. H. Kim, M. K. Lee, Dong Kyue Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We propose a novel computer architectural concept of instruction overloading to support block ciphers. Instead of adding new instructions, we extend only the execution of some existing instructions. The proposed method allows a central processing unit core to execute different operations for the same instructions, depending on the address of the data, similar to operator overloading in object-oriented languages. We first present an extension for the AES algorithm, then we demonstrate its enhanced applicability with two further extensions supporting multiple block ciphers and hardware masking. The first extension for AES is also applicable to add/AND-rotate-XOR-based block ciphers such as SIMON. The AES and SIMON encryption speed, on this extended core, is at least doubled and is significantly less affected by memory latency. In addition, the AES encryption code requires only 18% of the memory of the previous software implementation. The second extension can further support various block ciphers defined over GF(28), and the SM4 encryption speed is increased by at least 182%. The third extension provides correlation power analysis (CPA) resistance with a 66.6% area overhead but almost no speed overhead, whereas a typical software anti-CPA AES implementation requires at least hundreds of times the execution time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2844-2857
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • Data encryption
  • microcomputers
  • physical security
  • processor architectures
  • support for security


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