Comparing Hardware Performance of Fourteen Round Two SHA-3 Candidates Using FPGAs
Performance in hardware has been demonstrated to be an important factor in the evaluation of candidates for cryptographic standards. Up to now, no consensus exists on how such an evaluation should be performed in order to make it fair, transparent, practical, and acceptable for the majority of the cryptographic community. In this report, we formulate a proposal for a fair and comprehensive evaluation methodology, and apply it to the comparison of hardware performance of 14 Round~2 SHA-3 candidates. The most important aspects of our methodology include the definition of clear performance metrics, the development of a uniform and practical interface, generation of multiple sets of results for several representative FPGA families from two major vendors, and the application of a simple procedure to convert multiple sets of results into a single ranking. The VHDL codes for 256 and 512-bit variants of all 14 SHA-3 Round 2 candidates and the old standard SHA-2 have been developed and thoroughly verified. These codes have been then used to evaluate the relative performance of all aforementioned algorithms using seven modern families of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) from two major vendors, Xilinx and Altera. All algorithms have been evaluated using four performance measures: the throughput to area ratio, throughput, area, and the execution time for short messages. Based on these results, the 14 Round 2 SHA-3 candidates have been divided into several groups depending on their overall performance in FPGAs.