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Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2014 15:32:04 -0500
From: Bill Cox <>
Subject: An argument for Catena-2

I've done some more work on my pebbling program, and tested Catena-2
against Catena-3.  Catena-3 does have a much higher penalty for
attackers using a TMTO, however, I think Catena-2 may be good enough.

When I save 1 memory location for Catena-2, I get a 50% recalculation
penalty.  No one is going to try and save 1 memory location against
Catena-2.  When I try something reasonable, like half, then I get a
recomputation penalty of over 10X.  Compute cores are cheap compared
to memory, so maybe I can run parallel cores and reduce the runtime
penalty, but I doubt I can get that 10X to run enough in parallel to
get the recomputation time to below 2X.  I should write some more code
to determine how much parallelism is available in the recomputations.
My guess is it is not enough to make it worthwhile.

I benchmarked Catena-2, and it is running 3.4X faster than Scrypt,
compared to 2.6X faster for Catena-3.  It's still 2.6X slower than
NoelKDF for the same memory, which is right in the middle of the
theoretical range of 2X to 3X.  It does 2 reads and 2 writes to every
memory location, compared to 1 read and 1 write for NoelKDF, which is
where the 2X lower bound comes from.  When memory bandwidth limited,
we should see a 2X difference.  For compute limited situations,
Catena-2 does 3X more computation than NoelKDF for the same memory
size, which is where the 3X upper bound comes from.

Performance does matter.  I'll do some more analysis on the chances of
a parallel attack against Catena-2 succeeding, but for now I'm leaning
towards Catena-2 for a cache-timing attack resistant algorithm.


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