Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded SRI International research institute $11.5 million to develop a new hardware accelerator chip to support fully homomorphic encryption (FHE).
With current data encryption strategies, data has to be decrypted before processing, which presents security and privacy concerns. FHE enables computations to be performed on encrypted data rather than rather than clear plaintext.
However, FHE-based computations involve “noise” that accumulates with each computation, that may ultimately render the encrypted result of the computations un-decryptable. Solving the problem will require a new type of accelerator CPU architecture and supporting software to speed up processing time which will reduce overhead and control the noise.
The DARPA contract is part of a larger initiative named DPRIVE, Data Protection in Virtual Environments, with the stated goal of developing a chip to accelerate FHE.
The resulting hardware and supporting software solution could enable practical FHE, which has broad commercial implications, such as accelerating the computations required to process large volumes of sensitive data for machine learning and to train artificial intelligence and enhancing security for data hosted in untrusted cloud computing platforms.
SRI has assembled a team of researchers and engineers for this initiative. “Creating a new hardware accelerator for FHE encrypted data is a unique technical challenge that requires expertise in co-processor architectures, hardware design, computer-aided verification of hardware, software, mathematics and FHE algorithms,” said Dr. Karim Eldefrawy, Principal Computer Scientist for the Computer Science Lab (CSL) at SRI International.