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access icon openaccess Oscillator without a combinatorial loop and its threat to FPGA in data centre

Virtual field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an emerging technology to put multiple users in the same FPGA fabric with logical isolation. Security researchers have studied new threats in virtual FPGA and proposed attacks on the logical isolation by exploiting analogue natures of FPGA. These attacks use an oscillator comprising a combinatorial loop to have access to the analogue domain using digital components only. Interestingly, the system in the field prohibits a combinatorial loop by a design rule check. In this Letter, the authors study if prohibiting a combinatorial loop is sufficient to thwart the conventional attacks. They negatively answer the question by showing oscillators without a combinatorial loop. They also show how to detect and reject the proposed oscillators by a design rule check.


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