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This work presents the first known attempt to leverage the unique characteristics of FPGAs to protect commercial investments in intellectual property. A watermark is applied to the physical layout of a digital circuit when it is mapped into an FPGA. This watermark uniquely identifies the circuit origin and yet is difficult to detect. While this approach imposes additional constraints, experiments involving a number of large complex designs indicate that the performance impact is small.
Date of Conference: 8-12 Nov. 1998