Reverse engineering of FPGA designs aids environmental compliance

Environmental compliance management doesn’t just cover chemicals and lead solders. It also covers the energy efficiency of the products you’re making. System design engineers go to great lengths to develop energy-saving models of new or established products. Reverse engineering is an important part of this, and has seen its way into quite complex areas, such as field programmable gate array (FPGA) design.

In 2007, researchers at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, created an automated, FPGA-based, reconfigurable low-power Radio Frequency Identification Data (RFID) tag, using reverse engineering logic. RFID technology is a rapidly expanding area applied in many situations where security is an issue. A shipping consignment may have thousands of tags. The system hardware must be application-specific (rather than off-the-shelf), with proprietary protocols, for each system. System design times for RFIDs tend to be extensive, and intolerant to changes in design standards or application criteria. They also have high costs.

The group sought to develop an automated design flow to customize low-power, active RFID tags using a common template. The system used an RFID primitives/macros and automated template system to create a smart logic buffer which screened out unwanted chip signals from the reader (transceiver). Normally, the transceiver broadcasts to all RFID chips in a certain range, indiscriminately of whether the chips are registered to that reader or not, which wastes power. Reverse engineering solved this problem at low cost.

We at Enventure Technologies have the expertise to tackle complex reverse engineering tasks on your company’s behalf, and have considerable expertise in FPGA design.

Contact Us