The cost of a true random bit—on the electronic cost gain of asic time-domain-based trngs

Netanel Klein, Eyal Harel, Itamar Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Random number generators are of paramount importance in numerous fields. Under certain well-defined adversarial settings, True Random Number Generators (TRNGs) are more secure than their computational (pseudo) random number generator counterparts. TRNGs are also known to be more efficiently implemented on hardware platforms where, for various applications, efficiency in terms of electronic cost factors is critical. In this manuscript, we first provide an evaluation of robustness and reliability of efficient time-domain-based TRNG implementation over FPGA platform. In particular, we demonstrate sensitivities which imply a TRNG construction which is not agnostic to electronic-design-automation tools and to the level of designers’ know-how. This entails a large amount of effort and validation to make the designs robust, as well as requires a high degree of complexity from non-trivial FPGAs flows. This motivates the second part of the manuscript, where we propose an ASIC-based implementation of the TRNG, along with the optimization steps to enhance its characteristics. The optimized design improves the randomness-throughput by 42× for the same entropy level described in previous works, and it can provide maximal entropy level of 0.985 with 7× improvement in randomness throughput over the raw samples (no pre-processing). The proposed design simultaneously provides a reduced energy of 0.1 (mW/bit) for the same entropy level as previous works, and 1.06 (mW/bit) for the higher entropy flavor, and a lower area utilization of 0.000252 (mm2 ) on a 65 nm technology evaluation, situating it in the top-class of the discuss ratings. This leads to the quantitative question of the gain in electronic cost factors over ASIC TRNGs, and the minimum Cost Per Bit/Source possible to date. Finally, we exemplify a TRNG versus PRNG cost-extrapolation for security architects and designers, targeting an ASIC scenario feeding a lightweight encryption core.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • ASIC
  • Application specific integrated circuits
  • Area reduction
  • Energy savings
  • FPGA
  • Field programmable gate array
  • Hardware security
  • TRNG
  • Time-domain
  • True random number generator


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