Testing and Verification Strategies for Enhancing Trust in Third Party IPs

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Virginia Tech


Globalization in semiconductor industry has surged up the trend of outsourcing component design and manufacturing process across geographical boundaries. While cost reduction and short time to market are the driving factors behind this trend, the authenticity of the final product remains a major question. Third party deliverables are solely based on mutual trust and any manufacturer with a malicious intent can fiddle with the original design to make it work otherwise than expected in certain specific situations. In case such a backfire happens, the consequences can be disastrous especially for mission critical systems such as space-explorations, defense equipments such as missiles, life saving equipments such as medical gadgets where a single failure can translate to a loss of lives or millions of dollars. Thus accompanied with outsourcing, comes the question of trustworthy design - "how to ensure that integrity of the product manufactured by a third party has not been compromised".

This dissertation aims towards developing verification methodologies and implementing non-destructive testing strategies to ensure the authenticity of a third party IP. This can be accomplished at various levels in the IC product life cycle. At the design stage, special testability features can be incorporated in the circuit to enhance its overall testability thereby making the otherwise hard to test portions of the design testable at the post silicon stage. We propose two different approaches to enhance the testability of the overall circuit. The first allows improved at-speed testing for the design while the second aims to exaggerate the effect of unwanted tampering (if present) on the IC. At the verification level, techniques like sequential equivalence checking can be employed to compare the third-party IP against a genuine specification and filter out components showing any deviation from the intended behavior. At the post silicon stage power discrepancies beyond a certain threshold between two otherwise identical ICs can indicate the presence of a malicious insertion in one of them. We have addressed all of them in this dissertation and suggested techniques that can be employed at each stage. Our experiments show promising results for detecting such alterations/insertions in the original design.



Design for Testability, Side-Channel Analysis, Sequential Equivalence Checking, Trojans, Third party IP