A Hardware Evaluation of a NIST Lightweight Cryptography Candidate

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The continued expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) in recent years has introduced a myriad of concerns about its security. There have been numerous examples of IoT devices being attacked, demonstrating the need for integrated security. The vulnerability of data transfers in the IoT can be addressed using cryptographic protocols. However, IoT devices are resource-constrained which makes it difficult for them to support existing standards. To address the need for new, standardized lightweight cryptographic algorithms, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began a Lightweight Cryptography Standardization Process. This work analyzes the Sparkle (Schwaemm and Esch) submission to the process from a hardware based perspective. Two baseline implementations are created, along with one implementation designed to be resistant to side channel analysis and an incremental implementation included for analysis purposes. The implementations use the Hardware API for Lightweight Cryptography to facilitate an impartial evaluation. The results indicate that the side channel resistant implementation resists leaking data while consuming approximately three times the area of the unprotected, incremental implementation and experiencing a 27% decrease in throughput. This work examines how all of these implementations perform, and additionally provides analysis of how they compare to other works of a similar nature.



Lightweight Cryptography, Side Channel Analysis, Field programmable gate arrays, ARX