UT Dallas researchers win grant to advance computer chip manufacturing security

UT Dallas researchers win grant to advance computer chip manufacturing security
Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, as well as from Texas A&M University, recently won nearly $500,000 in funding to find better ways to secure split-manufacturing of computer chips.
 
“In the split-manufacturing framework, a design house creates the Front End of Line (FEOL) layers at an untrusted, high-end foundry,” UT Dallas Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Jeyavijayan Rajendran said. “The Back End of Line (BEOL) layers are then fabricated at the design house’s trusted, low-end foundry. This allows companies to simultaneously alleviate the cost of owning a trusted foundry and eliminate the security risks associated with outsourcing the fabrication of integrated circuits.”
 
With their $480,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and the Semiconductor Research Corporation, researchers will work to determine how attackers would compromise chips or recreate missing design elements to create unauthorized chips. Armed with knowledge of what potential attackers might attempt, they will then work to counter those methods.
 
“To overcome this security vulnerability in split manufacturing, we developed an automated tool that ensures security by design,” Rajendran said. “This defense improves the security of split manufacturing by deceiving the FEOL attacker into making wrong connections.”

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