Efficient FPGA Implementations of LowMC and Picnic

Daniel Kales, Sebastian Ramacher, Christian Rechberger, Roman Walch*, Mario Werner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Post-quantum cryptography has received increased attention in recent years, in particular, due to the standardization effort by NIST. One of the second-round candidates in the NIST post-quantum standardization project is Picnic, a post-quantum secure signature scheme based on efficient zero-knowledge proofs of knowledge. In this work, we present the first FPGA implementation of Picnic. We show how to efficiently calculate LowMC, the block cipher used as a one-way function in Picnic, in hardware despite the large number of constants needed during computation. We then combine our LowMC implementation and efficient instantiations of Keccak to build the full Picnic algorithm. Additionally, we conform to recently proposed hardware interfaces for post-quantum schemes to enable easier comparisons with other designs. We provide evaluations of our Picnic implementation for both, the standalone design and a version wrapped with a PCIe interface, and compare them to the state-of-the-art software implementations of Picnic and similar hardware designs. Concretely, signing messages on our FPGA takes 0.25 ms for the L1 security level and 1.24 ms for the L5 security level, beating existing optimized software implementations by a factor of 4.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTopics in Cryptology – CT-RSA 2020 - The Cryptographers Track at the RSA Conference 2020, Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationThe Cryptographers’ Track at the RSA Conference 2020, San Francisco, CA, USA, February 24–28, 2020, Proceedings
EditorsStanislaw Jarecki
Place of PublicationSan Francisco, CA, USA
Number of pages25
VolumeLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-40186-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-40185-6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2020
EventTopics in Cryptology - The Cryptographer's Track at the RSA Conference 2020: CT-RSA 2020 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 24 Feb 202028 Feb 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12006 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceTopics in Cryptology - The Cryptographer's Track at the RSA Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleCT-RSA 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • digital signatures
  • PICNIC signature scheme
  • FPGA
  • implementation
  • Picnic
  • LowMC
  • Digital signatures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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