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Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:48:56 +0200
From: Thomas Pornin <pornin@...et.org>
To: discussions@...sword-hashing.net
Subject: Re: [PHC] winner selection

On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 03:11:32AM +0100, Samuel Neves wrote:
> This recent paper [1], which I admittedly cannot understand, claims
> big advantages versus a CPU; a second paper [2] claims 7210 2048-bit
> modular exponentiations per second on an NVIDIA GTX 580, which may
> translate roughly to 14+ million modular multiplications per second. I
> would expect that Makwa's squaring, without the need for
> square-and-multiply or windowed exponentiation, can be made somewhat
> faster. [3] uses floating-point arithmetic instead and claims speedups
> (110 million modular multiplications/s), but they don't go above
> 1024-bit modular arithmetic, making performance hard to compare
> accurately.

I unfortunately cannot read Japanese either. I don't have access to the
two other articles, only the abstracts.

One important point to check about the second article is whether it
talks about generic 2048-bit modular exponentiations, or about 2048-bit
RSA -- because the latter case implies a 4x speedup (thanks to the CRT).
If we are talking about 7210 RSA-2048 private key operations per second,
then this shall be compared with what a basic CPU can do. I have a
server with a "Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1220 V2 @ 3.10GHz" quad-core CPU
(so says Linux), that can do about 3280 RSA-2048 private key operations
per second (840 per core, using OpenSSL's implementation); while the GTX
580 is twice as fast (subject to the details of the quoted article, that
I cannot access), it may also be more than twice as expensive(*).

In all generality, a benchmark for password hashing must ultimately
relate to dollars; you need to compute the average cost of trying out a
password. In fact you will get two costs: one for buying the hardware,
and one for running the hardware (the first one is amortized over time,
the second one is not since it is about power consumption and cooling).
>From the figures I got, for Makwa cracking, these costs will be of the
_same magnitude_ for CPU and for GPU. However I don't know which way the
balance tilts. Maybe CPU allow twice as many password hashes per second
for a given budget, compared to GPU; or maybe the reverse. Details
matter a lot here, and I am trying to motivate people to investigate
these details (which is why I am making "bold claims").

I totally agree that Makwa is not completely comparable to bcrypt here,
because with bcrypt it is rather obvious that the CPU wins (though
people have tried, the GPU is still substantially lagging behind).
However it is still unclear whether GPU can be _more_ than merely
comparable to CPU, when counted in dollars. As long as the GPU is not
more efficient than the CPU, then Makwa still fulfills the required
property (i.e. defender's hardware is optimal).


> Additionally, a stronger integer multiplier would make a big
> difference here, and this seems like a more plausible inclusion in
> future GPUs than some mechanism that improves bcrypt performance
> significantly.

To this I agree. To help with bcrypt, one should have an array of
independently running CPU, each with a bit of RAM, like (say) the Cell
processor; GPU are steadily going far into the other direction
(generalized SIMD, interleaved execution, pre-core registers but not
RAM).

Whether GPU will gain a stronger multiplier remains to be seen, though.
It's the 'G': as long as it means "graphics", then there is little
pressure for higher-precision multiplications (3D rendering does not
need a lot of precision); but if it shifts to "general" (e.g. for
physics simulations) then high-precision multiplications may become more
commonplace.


	--Thomas Pornin

(*) This leads me to the following remark: even if the attacker has to
use what is basically a PC, because GPU/FPGA/ASIC are not a cost
effective solution for the function he tries to attack, he still can
choose the kind of PC that best suits his needs. A typical server, like
mine, will be optimized for "normal server stuff", which is why I got a
Xeon-branded CPU with a substantial amount of cache (I did not choose
the hardware, this is the "generic server" I got from the provider, and
I rent it for 30 EUR per month). The attacker may possibly use quite
cheaper CPU if he does not need some features. In particular, cache size
is likely to be unimportant, both for "compact" functions like Makwa and
bcrypt, that fit in L1 cache, and for "large" memory-hard functions, for
which most memory accesses will hit uncached areas anyway (this depends
a lot on how the function is designed, of course).

Thus, in all generality, proving that "CPU is better than other
architectures" does not immediately mean that the defender's hardware is
optimal; furthermore, when counted in dollars, the cost difference
between distinct brands of CPU may well dwarf out the difference between
a server CPU and an off-the-shelf GPU -- and the cost for support
hardware (motherboards, cooling) is also an important factor. Maybe we
are not looking at the right metric here. Maybe the real danger for
password hashing is not oversized GPU, but Raspberry-Pi clusters.

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