Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: New Results

Programming after the end of Moore's law

The end of Moore's law is a wake-up call that resonates across Computer Science at large. We are now firmly in an era of custom hardware design, as witnessed by the diversity of system-on-chip (SoC) and specialized processing units – such as graphics processing units (GPUs), tensor processing unit (TPUs) or programmable network adapters, to name but a few. This trend is justified by the existence of niche application domains (graphic processing, linear algebra, packet processing, etc.) that greatly benefit from specialized hardware. Faced with the imminent explosion of the number of niche applications and niche architectures, we are still grasping for a programming model that would accommodate this diversity.

The Usuba project is an exploratory effort in that direction. We chose a niche application domain (symmetric cryptographic algorithms), a specialized execution platform (Single Instruction Multiple Data, SIMD) processors and we set out to design a programming language faithfully describing our application domain as well as an optimizing compiler efficiently exploiting our target execution platform.

Indeed, cryptographic primitives are subject to diverging imperatives. Functional correctness and auditability pushes for the use of a high-level programming language. Performance and the threat of timing attacks push for directly programming in assembler to exploit (or avoid!) the micro-architectural features of a given machine. In a paper published at PLDI 2019 [23], we have demonstrated that a suitable programming language could reconcile both views and actually improve on the state of the art of both.

Usuba is a dataflow programming language in which block ciphers become so simple as to be “obviously correct” and whose types document and enforce valid parallelization strategies at the granularity of individual bits. Its optimizing compiler, Usubac , produces high-throughput, constant-time implementations performing on par with hand-tuned reference implementations. The cornerstone of our approach is a systematization and generalization of bitslicing, an implementation trick frequently used by cryptographers. We have shown that Usuba can produce code that executes between 5% slower to 22% faster than hand-tuned reference implementations while gracefully scaling across a wide range of architectures and automatically exploiting Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions whenever the cipher's structure allows it.