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Comparison of Self-Timed Ring and Inverter Ring Oscillators as Entropy Sources in FPGAs

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Executive Summary

Many True Random Numbers Generators (TRNG) use jittery clocks generated in ring oscillators as a source of entropy. This is especially the case in Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA), where sources of randomness are very limited. Inverter Ring Oscillators (IRO) are relatively well characterized as entropy sources. However, it is known that they are very sensitive to working conditions. This fact makes them vulnerable to attacks. On the other hand, Self-Timed Rings (STR) are currently considered as a promising solution to generate robust clock signals. Although many studies deal with their temporal behavior and robustness in Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), equivalent study does not exist for FPGAs.

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