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Are FPGAs More Secure Than Processors

By: Bryan Moyer

Implementing security remains challenging, regardless of the hardware platform.

With an off-the-shelf FPGA, a hardware designer has complete control over the logic that gets implemented in the fabric of the FPGA. “A big reason why FPGA security is seen as better is because of the customization of the design in your hands as opposed to somebody else’s,” said John Hallman, product manager for trust and security at OneSpin Solutions. “That last customization piece is yours.”


The choice between implementing functionality in software on a processor and on an FPGA involves a classic tradeoff. Software is more flexible and is easier to change. FPGAs are more flexible than hardened logic, but they are still less flexible than software. Security becomes another consideration in this decision. If the ultimate security is needed, FPGAs and embedded FPGAs may keep the system safer than software.


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