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Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2014 05:58:37 +0400
From: Solar Designer <solar@...nwall.com>
To: discussions@...sword-hashing.net
Subject: simplifying yescrypt

Hi,

As I recognize that complexity is yescrypt's worst drawback, I've been
thinking of how to simplify it.  There's not a lot that can be removed
without making it substantially worse in some way.

I think the same applies to scrypt, so I don't find scrypt exactly
over-engineered.  It's just complex - more so than we would have liked
it to be.  The only likely-unjustified thing in scrypt is BlockMix's
block shuffling.  Everything else is justified in some way - e.g., the
use of PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256 on the outer layer lets us say that scrypt's
basic crypto properties rely solely on NIST-approved crypto, which may
be crucial for adoption by some users.  (Of Open Source projects, at
least glibc and Drupal have stipulated such requirements, although
scrypt in particular would not be suitable for them for other reasons.)

As long as yescrypt supports computing not only its native, but also
classic scrypt hashes, it obviously can't be made simpler than scrypt.
However, I am planning on introducing yescrypt-lite supporting a subset
of yescrypt's full functionality, and yescrypt-lite would not be a
superset of the full scrypt either.  Here's what I'd change in -lite:

- Drop support for (ye)scrypt's p parameter.
(Only p=1 will be supported in -lite, and hence -lite will not include
the different handling of p that now exists between classic scrypt and
native yescrypt hashes.)

- Maybe: drop support for classic scrypt hashes.
(Have only native yescrypt hashes supported in -lite.)

- Maybe: drop support for a ROM.

I'd appreciate arguments for/against the two "maybes" above, considering
that I intend -lite to be usable in Unix crypt(3) and PHP crypt(), etc.

Overall, I don't expect this to make yescrypt-lite simpler than scrypt
(it will have pwxform, which isn't in scrypt), but it'd certainly be
simpler than full yescrypt.

In PHC context, I am willing to offer replacing full yescrypt with
yescrypt-lite, and keeping the full yescrypt (a strict superset of
yescrypt-lite, re-adding full classic scrypt support and the rest of
full yescrypt features) as a non-PHC extra.  That is, if the PHC panel
prefers so, yescrypt-lite and not full yescrypt would be the PHC
candidate, although of course it can/should be kept in consideration
that there exists this sort of superset (which would remain a reason
for yescrypt-lite to be defined the way it would be).  I don't actually
recommend doing things in this way (I'd rather keep full yescrypt in
PHC, with -lite being a subset of it, much like how TwoCats/SkinnyCat
is currently in PHC), but this is a valid option.

Regardless of what exactly goes into yescrypt-lite (and what's excluded
from it), and regardless of whether/which yescrypt remains in PHC, here
are some other changes I am considering to simplify yescrypt (the full
thing, not only -lite):

- Drop support for ROM access frequency mask.  In practice, this will
mean no ROM-on-SSD support (only ROM-in-RAM will be supported).  The
reason why I am considering dropping this is that in most cases where I
would have recommended use of ROM-on-SSD I would _also_ recommend
simultaneous use of ROM-in-RAM, and then it would need to be two ROMs,
with different access frequency, resulting in even greater complexity.
Perhaps just one mask (only for the ROM-on-SSD) would be enough even in
that two-ROMs case, though.

- Merge the various yescrypt flags into one - to choose native yescrypt
mode or classic scrypt mode.  This doesn't simplify the reference code
much, but it will simplify documentation, analysis, testing,
benchmarking, and it may simplify optimized implementations.  A drawback
is that there will no longer be any deliberately-TMTO-friendly native
yescrypt mode (for which I think some use cases exist), requiring that
people use the classic scrypt mode if they require that.

(On the other hand, I need to add a new flag for enabling cache timing
resistance.  So get rid of separation between the existing flags, and
add that new flag.)

- Without scrypt compatibility (as in -lite) and when in native mode, I
can replace Salsa with ChaCha.  If a given build lacks scrypt
compatibility (would be true for -lite), this would probably make it
slightly simpler by eliminating the need for 32-bit word shuffling
associated with interfacing with Salsa.  The drawback is that full
yescrypt would become more complicated, requiring both Salsa (for scrypt
compatibility) and ChaCha.  This is why I stayed with Salsa only so far.

Any comments?

Thanks,

Alexander

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