Dependable Systems & Architectures Laboratory (DSA Lab)

Iran University of Science and Technology

Nowadays, embedded systems are playing a significant role in human daily life. These systems have variety of applications ranging from consumer devices such as cell phones to safety-critical applications such as aircraft. However, these systems have serious constraints on power consumption, cost, weight/volume, reliability, and security. Embedded systems should be energy efficient because of three main reasons: 1) they are battery operated and the lifetime of the batteries are limited. On the other hand, the improvement of battery technologies lags that of VLSI circuits; 2) the advent of miniaturized chips has enabled the paradigm of pervasive computing, i.e. computing everywhere. This widespread use of embedded systems has brought serious challenges for providing the energy demand for such huge amount of computations; 3) Aggressive power consumption will result in temperature increase on chip, which in turn cause chip failures. Embedded systems should be size efficient as many of such systems may be employed in a system such as car, airplane, and health monitoring systems. Therefore if the size issues are not considered the overall weight and volume of the system would significantly increase. This results in more cost, more energy consumption, or more fuel consumption in some applications such as automotive.

Until recently, reliability has been a concern for only safety-critical applications, but due to reliance of embedded systems on deep submicron technologies, the reliability has become a serious challenge even in non-safety critical applications. This is because; failures in non-safety critical applications may diminish the acceptability of new devices and erode the reputation of the manufacturers. Three trends have seriously challenged the reliability of today’s embedded systems: 1) the ever-decreasing the technology feature sizes: as technology shrinks to Nano-scale feature sizes, the chips become much more vulnerable to environmental faults such as radiations and electromagnetic interferences; 2) the ever-increasing harshness of the environments: our environment has been affected by different source of noises caused by high tech industries such as high frequency satellite signals; 3) the ever increasing the use of embedded devices: as mentioned, today’s we have encountered the pervasive paradigm. It means that the use rate of embedded systems in our daily life has significantly increased. In other words, our quality of life has been coupled with the existence of such devices. Therefore, the failure of such device will directly affect our quality of life.

Outsourcing the design and fabrication of integrated circuits (ICs) has raised major concerns about their security. Realized by the intentional modification of design characteristics, hardware Trojans can obstruct availability or violate confidentiality of an embedded system. Counterfeiting is also a growing issue that has raised serious concerns for the government and for industry. Counterfeit electronic components are unauthorized products that do not conform to their original design specifications. In addition to diminishing system dependability, counterfeiting reduces companies’ total revenue from their research and development, discourages innovation through the theft of intellectual properties (IPs), and produces low-quality products under established brand names (from Preface section of a book by M. TehraniPour, “Integrated Circuit Authentication”). On the other hand, secret information of modern chips may be revealed by several attacks including side channel attacks, fault injection attacks, scan-based attacks, etc. Such attacks try to reveal secret information of the chip via analyzing information which are not important/relevant at the first step. Power trace, memory access trace, timing behavior, I/O trace are examples of such side information. In the DSA lab we are developing novel approaches to improve the security of modern digital systems against different types of hardware insecurity sources including hardware Trojans, side channel attacks, fault injection attacks.

Dependable Systems & Architectures Laboratory (DSA Lab) is established in 2012 in the Computer Engineering Department, Iran University of Science and Technology. Research areas that members of DSA Lab are working on include different design issues of embedded systems including reliability, power consumption, security, and safety of embedded systems.


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