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Date: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:56:49 +0300
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] Argon2

On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 03:34:44PM +0200, Dmitry Khovratovich wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 2:50 PM, Solar Designer <> wrote:
> >
> >> means that the block latency is not 16 pwxform calls+ 8 Salsa rounds,
> >> but far smaller, only the equivalent of 4 pwxform+8 Salsa rounds.
> >
> > No.  Where does the number 4 come from?
> Let me reformulate. Pwxform operates lanewise and can be fully
> parallelized up to the lane level. What I meant is that you get only
> 1-lane latency for the entire sub-block. You do not have to know an
> entire subblock to compute the next one, so the total latency of
> Blockmix is 16 1-lane pwxform.

That's correct.

> This value I divided by 4; maybe I was
> incorrect if you implicitly took this into account, and by latency of
> 32 sequential pwxform's meant "latency of 32 sequential 1-lane
> pwxform's"

That's what I meant.

> (should there be 16, not 32?).

It's 32 because Bill tested yescrypt with two pwxform rounds per
sub-block.  So 16 sub-blocks per 1 KB, 2 pwxform rounds per sub-block,
giving us a latency of 32 pwxform rounds.

Those 32 pwxform rounds correspond to 128 gather lane computations
(128-bit), and 256 simple lane computations (64-bit), with the current
default settings.  However, those larger numbers are irrelevant when
we're talking maybe-ASIC attackers' latencies.  On CPUs, the 4x
difference you noted covers the integer multiply latency.

> Well, you may consider the same for Argon2, since the Blake2b round
> also has internal parallelism, and the round latency is only 2
> quarterround latencies.

I was referring to Blake2b round latency, whatever it is.  You say it is
that of 2 quarterround latencies.  If this benefits typical defenders'
CPUs (in other words, they manage to take advantage of this parallelism),
then that's fine.  If not yet, that's moderately problematic.

What I find most problematic is that Argon2 invokes 8 Blake2b rounds in
parallel, whereas current CPUs probably need at most the parallelism of
one or two Blake2b rounds.  (Most likely one, with very little benefit
from a second parallel instance.)  While excessive parallelism may help
future CPUs, it also helps current and future attackers.

I think we shouldn't introduce more than 2x the parallelism that we can
use currently.  As an option, we need to have it tunable, like I do with
pwxform parameters.

> A fair comparison between the latencies of the
> two schemes becomes difficult at this level, I feel. Whereas Argon2
> has definitely more parallelism inside, it also synchronizes much more
> often, whereas yescrypt synchronizes the lanes only in Salsa.

While you're correct about the difference in lanes synchronization
frequency, I see no significant drawback of the lower frequency.

> What we can do, for example, is to draw up for each scheme a chain of
> operations that must be sequential. For Argon2, I see a chain of 16
> additions, 16 XORs, and 16 rotations, which depend sequentially on one
> another. Such a chain exists for every 64-bit word of the 1 KB-block.
> For yescrypt's pwxform, I see a chain of 2 multiplications (or S-box
> calls), 2 XORs, 2 additions - for first subblock, 4 mults, 4 XORs, 4
> additions - for the second subblock, etc., up to 32 mults, 32 XORs, 32
> additions for the last subblock + Salsa.
> For me these two sets of chains look comparable,

Comparable, yes.  In software.

> and almost equal in average length.

I guess you're averaging per sub-block?  I think this metric is
irrelevant.  Computation of the next block cannot proceed until the
current block is complete anyway.

Note that rotations are no-ops in ASICs.  It's like if we counted
pwxform's shifts by 32 bits, which it has to perform in some builds to
extract the high 32 bits of multiplication result - but for ASIC or FPGA
attacks we should not count these, either.

I am not sure how many sequential ADDs a single 32x32->64 MUL is
equivalent to in terms of latency is ASIC, but judging by these
instructions' latencies on CPUs I'd expect that at least 3, and probably
many more (like 32).  Using the very conservative estimate of just 3,
we get 3*32 + 32 + 32 = 160.  (I am counting the ADDs and XORs
separately because we used the conservative estimate for MUL.
In practice, MUL will likely dominate the latency to an extent where
the ADDs and especially the XORs are negligible.)

For Argon2, it's 16 + 16 = 32 in the same arbitrary units of latency as
above.  OK, that's a mere 5x difference, and not 16x.  I admit this is
less than I had expected.  But that's for an extremely conservative (I
think almost unrealistically low) estimate of MUL's latency vs. ADD's
(when found in a sequence of ADDs and XORs).

> > Yes, it can be computed lanewise up until the final Salsa20/8, but
> > that's a non-issue.  In fact, this flexibility may be somewhat useful on
> > register-starved archs.  pwxform() in yescrypt-opt.c actually partly
> > takes advantage of this: it has the loops re-ordered to be
> > gather{rounds{simple}} rather than rounds{gather{simple}}, for some
> > slight speedup on register-starved archs.  yescrypt-opt.c does not take
> > this to the BlockMix level, but it could.
> >
> > Do you think this has any drawback, and why?
> I understand. I do not know yet if it is a drawback since I have not
> found an attack. I must check some ideas, also on your S-box
> generation...

I'd appreciate your analysis of this very much.  Thank you!

> >> Do I understand yescrypt right?
> >
> > I think not.  Perhaps I need to describe it better, including the
> > expected latencies.
> So do I understand it now?:)


It feels good to be on the same page.


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