Watermarking FPGA bitstream for IP protection
Marolia, Pratik M.
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In this thesis, we address the problem of digital intellectual property (IP) protection for the field programmable gate array (FPGA) designs. Substantial time and effort is required to the design complex circuits; thus, it makes sense to re-use these designs. An IP developer can sell his design to the companies and collect royalty. However, he needs to protect his work from security breach and piracy. The legal means of IP protection such as patents and license agreements are a deterrent to illegal IP circulation, but they are insufficient to detect an IP protection breach. Watermarking provides a means to identify the owner of a design. Firstly, we propose a watermarking technique that modifies the routing of an FPGA design to make it a function of the signature text. This watermarking technique is a type of constraint-based watermarking technique where we add a signature-based term to the routing cost function. Secondly, we need a method to verify the existence of the watermark in the design. To address this we propose a digital signature generation technique. This technique uses the switch state (ON/OFF) of certain switches on the routing to uniquely identify a design. Our results show less than 10% speed overhead for a minimum channel width routing. Increasing the channel width by unit length, we could watermark the design with a zero speed overhead. The increase in the wire length is negative for majority of the circuits. Our watermarking technique can be integrated into the current routing algorithm since it does not require an additional step for embedding the watermark. The overall design effort for routing a watermarked design is equivalent to that of routing a non-watermarked design.