Know Time to Die – Integrity Checking for Zero Trust Chiplet-based Systems Using Between-Die Delay PUFs


  • Aleksa Deric University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA, USA
  • Daniel Holcomb University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA, USA



Chiplet, PUF, FPGA, Advanced Packaging, Zero Trust Architecture


Industry trends are moving toward increasing use of chiplets as a replacement for monolithic fabrication in many modern chips. Each chiplet is a separately-produced silicon die, and a system-on-chip (SoC) is created by packaging the chiplets together on a silicon interposer or bridge. Chiplets enable IP reuse, heterogeneous
integration, and better ability to leverage cost-appropriate process nodes. Yet, creating systems from separately produced components also brings security risks to consider, such as the possibility of die swapping, or susceptibility to interposer probing or tampering. In a zero-trust security posture, a chiplet should not blindly assume it is operating in a friendly environment.
In this paper we propose a delay-based PUF for chiplets to verify system integrity. Our technique allows a single chiplet to initiate a protocol with its neighbors to measure unique variations in the propagation delays of incoming signals as part of an integrity check. We prototype our design on Xilinx Ultrascale+ FPGAs, which are constructed as multi-die systems on a silicon interposer, and which also emulate the general features of other industrial chiplet interfaces. We perform experiments on, and compare data from, dozens of Ultrascale+ FPGAs by making use of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) F1 instances as a testing platform. The PUF cells are shown to reject clock and temperature variation as common mode, and each cell produces approximately 5 ps of unique delay variation. For a design with 144 PUF cells, we measure the mean within-class and between-class distances to be 68.3 ps and 847.7 ps, respectively. The smallest between-class distance of 686.0 ps exceeds the largest within-class distance of 124.0 ps by more than 5x under nominal conditions, and the PUF is shown to be resilient to environmental changes. Our findings indicate the PUF can be used for authentication, and is potentially sensitive enough to detect picosecond-scale timing changes due to tampering.




How to Cite

Deric, A., & Holcomb, D. (2022). Know Time to Die – Integrity Checking for Zero Trust Chiplet-based Systems Using Between-Die Delay PUFs. IACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems, 2022(3), 391–412.