Dr. Ted Huffmire
3-D Extensions for Trustworthy Systems
Ted Huffmire, Timothy Levin, Cynthia Irvine, Ryan Kastner, and Timothy Sherwood,
Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, USA
Time: 08:10 - 08:30am
Location: Gold Room


Developing high assurance systems is costly. Trustworthy system development entails a high non-recurring engineering (NRE) cost together with a low volume of units over which to amortize that cost. This results in an increasing gap between systems that meet DoD requirements and those that are available to consumers. Also, the potential for developmental and operational attacks against hardware requires countermeasures that make it very expensive to design and manufacture the custom hardware used to build high assurance systems. To address these problems, we propose an approach to trustworthy system development based on 3-D integration, an emerging chip fabrication technique in which two or more dies are fabricated individually and then combined into a single stack using vertical conductive posts. With 3-D integration, a general-purpose die, or computation plane, can be combined with a special-purpose die, or control plane. Our approach has the potential to reduce the cost of developing hardware for high assurance systems by joining a mass-produced computation plane with a custom control plane. Our approach provides several advantages, including

  1. dual use of the computation plane, which can be optionally combined with a control plane housing application-specific security functions;
  2. physical isolation and logical disentanglement of security functions in the control plane (from the non-security circuitry in the computation plane);
  3. controlled lineage (e.g., use of a trusted foundry to manufacture the control plane);
  4. high bandwidth communication and low latency between the computation plane and components in the control plane such as coprocessors, memory, or other devices; and
  5. direct, granular access by the control plane to chip features in the computation plane.

In the following, we discuss the security advantages of using 3-D integrated hardware in sensitive applications, where security is of the utmost importance, and we outline problems, challenges, attacks, solutions, and topics for future research.


Ted Huffmire is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. His research spans both computer security and computer architecture, focusing on hardware-oriented security and the development of policy enforcement mechanisms for application-specific devices. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a member of the IEEE and the ACM.