Solver-Aided Constant-Time Circuit Verification

Rami Gokhan Kici, Klaus v. Gleissenthall, Deian Stefan, Ranjit Jhala

We present Xenon, a solver-aided method for formally verifying that Verilog hardware executes in constant-time. Xenon scales to realistic hardware designs by drastically reducing the effort needed to localize the root cause of verification failures via a new notion of constant-time counterexamples, which Xenon uses to automatically synthesize a minimal set of secrecy assumptions. Xenon further exploits modularity in Verilog code via a notion of module summaries, thereby avoiding duplicate work across multiple module instantiations. We show how Xenon's assumption synthesis and summaries enable the verification of a variety of circuits including AES, a highly modular AES-256 implementation where modularity cuts verification from six hours to under three seconds, and ScarV, a timing channel hardened RISC-V micro-controller whose size exceeds previously verified designs by an order of magnitude.

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