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Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 04:51:57 +0400
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] Re: A review per day - Yescript

On Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 07:04:15PM -0400, Bill Cox wrote:
> I really would prefer that you keep YESCRYPT_PARALLEL_SMIX, and
> YESCRYPT_RW.  Reading an unpredictable prior location and mixing it
> into the state is the best way to defend against Scrypt's current TMTO
> problem.

I will definitely keep YESCRYPT_RW since it deals with TMTO attacks that
reduce attacker's cost, even when measured as theoretical space*time,
by up to 2x or 4x (and sometimes much more so in practice).
YESCRYPT_PARALLEL_SMIX is less valuable since it deals with TMTO attacks
that do not reduce the theoretical space*time (but may reduce actual cost
on real-world hardware).

So maybe YESCRYPT_PARALLEL_SMIX should remain part of the full yescrypt,
but be excluded from a cut-down partial implementation.

> On 08/28/2014 05:37 PM, Solar Designer wrote:
> > On Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 04:05:32PM -0400, Bill Cox wrote:
> >> - - OPENMP support is required for current version to run in
> >> parallel
> > 
> > Oh, that's a mere implementation detail.  To me, OpenMP-using code
> > is cleaner and smaller than pthread-using code, but it's easy to
> > switch it to using pthreads in a fork of the tree, or to include
> > both versions, if you want to.  I just don't want to add the
> > complexity of including both.
> > 
> > Why do you find it a drawback?  OpenMP has been around for years,
> > and it hides some of the complexity and removes room for some
> > potential bugs.
> It's not really a drawback now days.  I do worry that OpenMP is not
> doing a good job starting and merging your threads though.  When I run
> TwoCats in Ubuntu 14.04, it runs at almost the same exact speed every
> time.  Yescript gives me more variation in runtime.  I worry OpenMP is
> the culprit.

OpenMP implementations tend to be extremely sensitive to any other load
on the system, unless you're using OpenMP with fewer threads than the
system has logical CPUs.  You had mentioned you run a Minecraft server
on that machine.  Even if that server consumes only a few percent of CPU
time, it can have a much bigger impact on OpenMP performance unless you
take measures to prevent that - e.g., try "export GOMP_SPINCOUNT=10000"
or "export OMP_NUM_THREADS=7" (leave 1 logical CPU for the machine's
other load).  YMMV.  So, yes, I see what you mean now.

> So, you divided the number of memory elements N by 3*p^2, where p is
> the parallelism, to determine how many unpredictable writes to do, and
> this happens to be the optimal solution to your time*cost maximization
> under a TMTO attack...

Not exactly.  I thought I had just explained it to you differently.
OK, this stuff is a bit complicated.

N/3 for SMix2 is the optimal point you mention.  No, it's not "under a
TMTO attack" - on the contrary, it assumes no efficient TMTO exists.
(Otherwise it's somewhat below the would-be TMTO-aware optimal point.)

The division by p^2 for the unpredictable writes is because:

With p=1, all of the N/3 iterations in SMix2 t=0 involve unpredictable
writes.  Now let's increase both N and p by a certain factor, let's call
it n.  Since p originally was 1, now p equals n.  To avoid potential
counter-intuitive TMTO surprises, we want to keep the number of
unpredictable writes (at least) the same, in absolute terms.  Since N is
now n times higher than it was, that same number of unpredictable writes
is now represented by (N/3)/n or (N/3)/p (since p=n).  Now recall that p
is the number of threads we run.  The number of unpredictable writes per
thread is then (N/3)/p^2.  Yet it's still the exact same number of total
unpredictable writes by all threads combined, in absolute terms.  So
we've ensured that we're not making this part of the anti-TMTO defense
(unpredictable writes) any worse, in absolute terms, when we increase
both m_cost and p proportionally.

Have I explained it better this time?

> This is why it's hard to read your code!
> I spent a lot of time thinking, "Why did he do that?", when reading
> your code.

I think this is because I've packed a lot into those lines of code.
Perhaps I should write more comments, but the resulting lengthy source
files might not necessarily become easier to read overall.  I think
source code comments should be mostly for implementation detail, whereas
design rationale belongs mostly in accompanying documentation.  Yes, I
should improve the latter (a lot) as well.

> I don't expect you to change the code in any way... maybe put in a
> comment about the N/(3*p^2) thing?

Maybe, or a reference to a specific place in a design rationale document.

> I actually have worked with a few
> guys who see the code as self-documenting, almost regardless of the
> complexity.

This is certainly my preference for code I work with, where practical.
When given a choice between writing a comment and rewriting some code to
make it self-documenting, I prefer the latter.

The main problem we're facing here is that design rationale isn't only
about code, and mostly not about our defensive code.

Similarly, scrypt source code, that I based yescrypt's on, didn't
contain scrypt design rationale comments, nor was self-documenting in
that respect.  (It was mostly self-documenting as it relates to its own
implementation detail, which is how it should be in my opinion.)
I doubt that scrypt source code would be any easier to read if it were
"inflated" with scrypt design rationale comments.

> I'm doing benchmarks at the moment with Yescrypt through the PHS
> interface.  I just set the parallelism #define to 4, which is optimal
> on my test machine.

In my testing, setting yescrypt's p to the machine's logical CPU count
is almost always optimal, on an otherwise idle system.  So I'd expect
the optimal p on your machine to be 8, or 7 if you leave that Minecraft
server running.

I did most of my testing through yescrypt's native interface, though,
with memory (de)allocation being out of the loop except for one-off
multi-GB hash computations and ROM initialization.

When invoking yescrypt with p=8 via the PHS() interface, I noticed
average CPU usage of around 650% instead of the usual 799% or so (as it
is in the kind of testing mentioned above), on an otherwise idle
i7-4770K.  I think this loss of 1.5 logical CPUs, on average, is because
of computation being stalled during memory (de)allocation.

> >> However, it looks like Nloop_rw is set to N/(3*p^2).  It looks
> >> like it only does N/(3*p) total random read/writes, followed by
> >> N/3 - N/(3*p)) random reads.  Is it supposed to be this way?
> >> This seems OK for p == 2 or p == 3, but what about p == 32?  Why
> >> would I want fewer random writes as a total fraction of memory as
> >> I increase parallelism?
> > 
> > Everything you describe in here is on purpose.  The random writes
> > exist for p>1 at all only to keep yescrypt's absolute TMTO
> > resilience (against whatever fixed TMTO attack) for p>1 at p times
> > higher total memory no worse than it is for p=1 at correspondingly
> > less memory, with no surprising gap.  It would be rather nasty if
> > e.g. going from 1 GB p=1 to 2 GB p=2 or even to 32 GB p=32 would
> > potentially allow for an efficient attack in a smaller amount of
> > memory than on the 1 GB p=1 hash.  This extra magic with division
> > by p^2 removes that risk.  For 32 GB p=32, it feels irrelevant as
> > it's unlikely you could find an efficient attack at < 1 GB on a 32
> > GB hash, and as you point out this random writes portion becomes
> > almost negligible, but for e.g. 2 GB p=2 the risk of an efficient <
> > 1 GB attack could be for real.
> Makes sense.

Oh, maybe you simply didn't read this far before starting to reply to
the paragraphs above.  This explains why you misunderstood me at first.
Makes sense. ;-)

> In general I would prefer that the code documented any magic :-)

Yes... but it gets tricky when it's design rather than code magic.


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