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Abstract

The reverse engineering process for VLSI chips is a complex operation that can cost from $10,000 for the simplest chips to hundreds of thousands of dollars for complex chips. In this study, we present an overview of the process of reverse engineering VLSI chips. The study outlines the steps involved in the process of reverse engineering chips as well as the different techniques used to extract the functionality of these chips. Furthermore, the paper presents two case studies for reverse engineering VLSI chips.
Conference Paper
SypherMedia International Inc. (SMI) utilizes camouflage circuitry to create programmable cells to provide a secure key store embedded in the standard logic area, i.e. not as separate One-Time-Programmable (OTP) or Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) block. Camouflage circuitry and the obfuscated embedded secure key store serve to secure designs during semiconductor manufacturing.
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Circuit camouflage technologies can be integrated into standard logic cell developments using traditional CAD tools. Camouflaged logic cells are integrated into a typical design flow using standard front end and back end models. Camouflaged logic cells obfuscate a circuit's function by introducing subtle cell design changes at the GDS level. The logic function of a camouflaged logic cell is extremely difficult to determine through silicon imaging analysis preventing netlist extraction, clones and counterfeits. The application of circuit camouflage as part of a customer's design flow can protect hardware IP from reverse engineering. Camouflage fill techniques further inhibit Trojan circuit insertion by completely filling the design with realistic circuitry that does not affect the primary design function. All unused silicon appears to be functional circuitry, so an attacker cannot find space to insert a Trojan circuit. The integration of circuit camouflage techniques is compatible with standard chip design flows and EDA tools, and ICs using such techniques have been successfully employed in high-attack commercial and government segments. Protected under issued and pending patents.
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