Area-Time Efficient Hardware Architecture for Factoring Integers with the Elliptic Curve Method

Jan Pelzl, M. Simka, T. Kleinjung, J. Franke, C. Priplata, C. Stahlke, M. Drutarovsky, V. Fischer, Chris­tof Paar

IEE Proceedings on Information Security, Special Issue on Cryptographic Algorithms and Architectures for System-on-Chip, pp.67-78, vol. 152, No.1, October, 2005.


Since the introduction of public key cryptography, the problem of factoring large composites has been of increased interest. The security of the most popular asymmetric cryptographic scheme RSA depends on the hardness of factoring large numbers. The best known method for factoring large integers is the general number field sieve (GNFS). One important step within the GNFS is the factorization of mid-size numbers for smoothness testing, an efficient algorithm for which is the elliptic curve method (ECM). Since smoothness testing is also suitable for parallelization, the implementation of ECM in hardware is promising. We show that massive parallel and cost-efficient ECM hardware engines can improve the area–time product of the RSA moduli factorization via the GNFS considerably. The computation of ECM is a classic example of an algorithm that can be significantly accelerated through special-purpose hardware. We thoroughly analyse the prerequisites for an area–time efficient hardware architecture for ECM. We present an implementation of ECM to factor numbers up to 200 bits, which is also scalable to other bit lengths. ECM is realized as a software–hardware co-design on a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and an embedded microcontroller (system-on-chip). Furthermore, we provide estimates for state-of-the-art CMOS implementation of the design and for the application of massive parallel ECM engines to the GNFS. This appears to be the first publication of a realized hardware implementation of ECM, and the first description of GNFS acceleration through hardware-based ECM.


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