Energy-efficient ARM64 Cluster with Cryptanalytic Applications: 80 cores that do not cost you an ARM and a leg


Getting a lot of CPU power used to be an expensive under-taking. Servers with many cores cost a lot of money and consume large amounts of energy. The developments in hardware for mobile devices has resulted in a surge in relatively cheap, powerful, and low-energy CPUs. In this paper we show how to build a low-energy, eighty-core cluster built around twenty ODROID-C2 development boards for under 1500 USD. The ODROID-C2 is a 46 USD microcomputer that provides a 1.536 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53-based CPU and 2 GB of RAM. We investigate the cluster’s application to cryptanalysis by implementing Pollard’s Rho method to tackle the Certicom ECC2K-130 elliptic curve challenge. We optimise software from the Breaking ECC2K-130 technical report for the Cortex-A53. To do so, we show how to use microbenchmarking to derive the needed instruction characteristics which ARM neglected to document for the public. The implementation of the ECC2K-130 attack finally allows us to compare the proposed platform to various other platforms, including “classical” desktop CPUs, GPUs and FPGAs. Although it may still be slower than for example FPGAs, our cluster still provides a lot of value for money.

Progress in Cryptology – LATINCRYPT 2017


Thom Wiggers
Thom Wiggers
Senior Cryptography Researcher

My research interests include (post-quantum) cryptography and protocols