Hardware Trojan detection in SE Tolerant Macro Synchronous Micro Asynchronous (MSMA) pipeline

Faiq Khalid Lodhi , Syed Rafay Hasan , Osman Hasan and Falah Awwad


Glitches due to soft errors have become a major concern in circuits designed in ultra-deep sub-micron technologies. Most of the soft error mitigation techniques require redundancy and are power hungry. Recently, low power quasi delay insensitive (QDI) null conventional logic based asynchronous circuits have been proposed, but these circuits work for pure asynchronous designs only. This project extends the low-power soft-error-tolerant asynchronous technique for conventional synchronous circuits. The main idea is to accommodate asynchronous standard cells within the synchronous pipeline, and thus giving rise to a macro synchronous micro asynchronous (MSMA) pipeline. An important application of this design is found in detecting the hardware Trojans. The state-of-the-art signature based hardware Trojan detection is implemented using the clock referencing signals for timing signatures. However, an intruder can intrude into clock distribution network itself and may lead to many false positive or even false negative cases. Asynchronous handshake signals, on the other hand, provide event trigger nature to the digital system, and hence the timing analysis is unique to the data path itself alone, without getting affected by the clock distribution network. This project provides a proof of concept soft error tolerant MSMA design. Time delay based signature without using clock distribution network is obtained to detect hardware Trojan insertion in MSMA.



Test vector insertion to obtain timing signature in MSMA

Experimental Results


Distribution of Parameters (a) xj of pMOS (b) xj of nMOS (c) vth0 of pMOS (d) vth0 of nMOS (e) toxp of pMOS (f) toxp of nMOS


Variation of the delay for Best Case ( when Test Vector is 0000 )


Variation of the delay for Worst Case ( when Test Vector is 1011)



  1. F. K. Lodhi, O. Hasan, S. R. Hasan and F. Awwad,”Hardware Trojan detection in soft error tolerant macro synchronous micro asynchronous (MSMA) pipeline, ” in IEEE International Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems (MWSCAS 2014), Aug. 2014, pp. 659 – 662.