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MSP1-PON Core IEEE 802.1ae (MACsec) Security Processor Core


Implementation of the new LAN security standard IEEE 802.1ae (MACsec) requires the NIST standard AES cipher in the GCM mode for encryption and message authentication, as well as header parsing and formatting operations on the transmitted and received packets. The MSP1-PON core is tuned for Passive Optics Networks (PON) IEEE 802.1ae applications at the data rates of 10-100 Gbps.
The design is fully synchronous and available in both source and netlist form.
WLAN 802.1ae MACsec
RFC 4869


Small size combined with high performance:
  • Starting at less than 180K ASIC gates
  • 16 Gbps performance at 250 MHz with 180K gates
Self-contained, uses two external memories for key storage and statistic counters
Very low latency
  • 12 clocks input-to-output
Back-to-back packet processing
  • 64 bytes shortest packet
Supports encryption and decryption
Provides MACsec header parsing and modification:
  • Insertion and removal of the SecTag including the packet number (PN) and an optional SCI
  • RX packet validation
  • Insertion, validation and removal of the ICV
  • Replay protection based on the PN windowing
Includes key storage, lookup, and expansion
  • Key lookup is based on LLID (other option of packet classifications are available)
  • Ability to lookup the key using built-in associative memory (parameterized size, default 16 entries) or using the LLID directly as an index
Support for Galois Counter Mode Encryption and authentication (GCM), Galois Message Authentication (GMAC)
Flow-through design
Test bench provided
Sample software for 802.1X-2010 (a.k.a. 802.1af, KEYsec, 802.1x-REV) key agreement (MKA) is provided
Deliverables include test benches and optional NIST algorithm validation
Pin Description

Clk Input   Core clock signal
Rst Input   Core reset signal
Cen Input   Synchronous enable signal. When LOW the core ignores all its inputs and all its outputs must be ignored.
Start Input   HIGH level starts the core operation
Configuration. The signals in this group typically have constant values during the core operation
Encrypt Input   When HIGH, core is encrypting, when LOW core is decrypting
offset[1:0] Input

Confidentiality offset:

  • 00 0 bytes
  • 01 30 bytes
  • 10 50 bytes
PNmax[31:0] Input   Threshold for PN exhaustion. When PN for an SA > PNmax, PN exhausted is asserted
PNwindow[31:0] Input   Size of the PN window for replay protection
strict Input   Strict frame verification. When HIGH, Tx frames for which SC cannot be found are suppressed
SCrequired Input   If HIGH, Tx frames will include SCI
ES Input   If HIGH, Tx frames will have ES set
directLLID Input   If HIGH, LLID number is directly used as an index for the key lookup. If LOW, LLID is translated into key index using built-in associative storage.
simple Input   Support for non-MACsec legacy encryption mode
Packet information. The signals in this group are to be asserted with the first or last word of the packet
First Input   Indicates the first word of a new packet on the D interface
Last Input   Asserted with the last word of the packet
lsbC[3:0] Input   Number of valid bytes in the last word
E Input   If HIGH, the packet shall be encrypted/decrypted
C Input   If HIGH, the packet shall be authenticated
llid[14:0] Input   LLID of the packet
CPU interface
mpA[9:0] Input   Address
mpD[31:0] Input   Read data
mpQ[31:0 Output   Read data
mpRead Input   When HIGH, read operation
myWrite Input   When HIGH, write operation
mpDvalid Output   When HIGH, valid data are available on the RD bus
mpQready Output   When HIGH, CPU can write to the WD bus
D[127:0] Input   Input packet data: additional authenticated data (AAD, A), followed by the plain or cipher text
Dvalid Input   When high, data on the D bus is valid
Dready Output   When HIGH, core is ready to accept next data word on the D bus
Q[127:0] Output   Output encrypted or decrypted packet
Qvalid Output   When high, data on the Q bus is valid
Qready Input   When HIGH, external circuitry is ready to accept next data word on the Q bus
Completion signals. Asserted after the packet processing
done Output   HIGH when data processing is completed, gate for the rest of completion signals
PNexhausted Output   On Tx: PN number for the last packet is too high, time to re-key
Conly Output   On Rx: The packet had C flag set and E clear. These packets require KaY processing
noSecTag Output   On Rx: The packet had no SecTag field (not a MACsec packet)
SCunknown Output   On Rx or Tx: Unable to locate an SC for the packet
packetInvalid Output   On Rx: Packet is not a proper MACsec frame
packetLate Output   On Rx: Packet PN is outside the PN window
ICVmismatch Output   On Rx: Packet authentication failed
Memory interfaces
memSA   SA storage. For N SA, a single-port memory of 3N x 138 bits
memStat   (Only for statistics option) Statistics storage. For N SA, a single port memory of 12Nx64 bits
Function Description

The MSP1 implementation fully supports the IEEE 802.1ae (MACsec) algorithm for 128-bit bit keys, including AES support in Galois Counter Mode (GCM) per NIST publication SP800-38D http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-38D/SP-800-38D.pdf.

The core is designed for flow-through operation. MSP1 supports encryption and decryption modes (encrypt-only and decrypt-only options are available.

Tx Processing

 On encryption, for each frame the core:

  • Obtains the SC index from the LLID and looks up the current SA key
  • Inserts the SecTag, including the PN and an optional SCI
  • Encrypts and authenticates the frame, based on the values on the E and C inputs
  • Appends the ICV tag to the packets
  • Updates the PN
  • Updates the statistics counters
Rx Processing

On decryption, for each frame the core:

  • Obtains the SC index from the LLID and looks up the current SA key
  • Allows pass-through fro KaY frames
  • Validates the SecTag and SCI, if present
  • Checks that the packet number PN is within the PN window
  • Decrypts the frame, if encrypted
  • Calculates the ICV tag, if the frame is authenticated, and compares to the one in the frame
  • Removes the ICV tag, appended to the frame
  • Updates the PN window
  • Updates the statistics counters


Implementation Results

Area Utilization and Performance
Representative area/resources figures are shown below.

Technology Area / Resources Frequency Throughput
TSMC 65 nm G+ 180K gates 250 MHz 16 Gbps
Export Permits
The core can be a subject of the US export control. It is the customer's responsibility to check with relevant authorities regarding the re-export of equipment containing the AES encryption technology. See the IP Cores, Inc. licensing basics page, http://ipcores.com/exportinformation.htm, for links to US government sites and more details.
HDL Source Licenses
Synthesizable Verilog RTL source code
Self-checking Test environment
Expected results
User Documentation
Optional GCMVS NIST validation

Netlist Licenses

Post-synthesis EDIF
Testbench (self-checking)
vectors for testbenches
Expected results
Contact Information
IP Cores, Inc.
3731 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA
Phone: +1 (650) 815-7996
E-mail: info@ipcores.com