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Constraint-based watermarking techniques for design IP protection

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9 Author(s)
Kahng, A.B. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Eng., California Univ., San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA ; Lach, J. ; Mangione-Smith, W.H. ; Mantik, S.
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Digital system designs are the product of valuable effort and know-how. Their embodiments, from software and hardware description language program down to device-level netlist and mask data, represent carefully guarded intellectual property (IP). Hence, design methodologies based on IP reuse require new mechanisms to protect the rights of IP producers and owners. This paper establishes principles of watermarking-based IP protection, where a watermark is a mechanism for identification that is: (1) nearly invisible to human and machine inspection; (2) difficult to remove; and (3) permanently embedded as an integral part of the design. Watermarking addresses IP protection by tracing unauthorized reuse and making untraceable unauthorized reuse as difficult as recreating given pieces of IP from scratch. We survey related work in cryptography and design methodology, then develop desiderata, metrics, and concrete protocols for constraint-based watermarking at various stages of the very large scale integration (VLSI) design process. In particular, we propose a new preprocessing approach that embeds watermarks as constraints into the input of a black-box design tool and a new postprocessing approach that embeds watermarks as constraints into the output of a black-box design tool. To demonstrate that our protocols can be transparently integrated into existing design flows, we use a testbed of commercial tools for VLSI physical design and embed watermarks into real-world industrial designs. We show that the implementation overhead is low-both in terms of central processing unit time and such standard physical design metrics as wirelength, layout area, number of vias, and routing congestion. We empirically show that the placement and routing applications considered in our methods achieve strong proofs of authorship and are resistant to tampering and do not adversely influence timing

Published in:

Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:20 ,  Issue: 10 )

Date of Publication:

Oct 2001

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