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AES cores


During September 1997, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the main standards body in the US, requested submissions for a new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES); this was to be a new encryption standard to replace the existing Data Encryption Standard (DES), which had been in place for more than two decades.

In October 2000, an algorithm called Rijndael was selected to be the final choice for AES. This was fully ratified by the NIST in November 2001, since which time AES has become the encryption algorithm of choice for all new commercial developments requiring a high degree of data security.

AES is a 128-bit block cipher, which supports a choice of three key sizes (128, 192 and 256-bits) according to the level of security required. It is a fast and efficient algorithm, and is considered secure enough for most current data security applications; for example in 2003 the US Government approved it for use with classified US government data.

Since its launch as a NIST standard, its use has become widespread across the world, where it forms the basis for many security protocols; for example 802.11 WLAN security, IPsec and the IEEE 1619 standard for data-at-rest on disk and tape.

Helion AES solutions

Helion was first to market with a set of commercial AES IP cores back in the summer of 2001, so by now we offer the most comprehensive set of mature and product proven AES solutions available anywhere for use in ASIC and FPGA.

If you are simply looking for hardware acceleration of the bare AES algorithm, look no further; our four families of AES engine cover all possible requirements from ultra low area/low data rate solutions, right up to multi-gigabit rates, with everything in between. There are more details on these cores below.

If your specific requirement is for one of the more advanced "modes" of AES, for example AES-CCM, AES-GCM, AES-XTS or maybe one of the simpler classic block cipher modes like CBC, CFB, OFB or CTR, we have a comprehensive set of product proven solutions in place for all of these needs. Take a look at our AES modes pages for more information on these powerful and efficient solutions.

In addition to basic mode support, we have solutions for a number of higher level security applications available. These include key wrapping, plus application specific hardware acceleration hardware for IPsec, SSL, MACsec and a number of the recent wireless, storage and video/cinema standards. For more details of these, see our security applications page.

Which AES core should I choose?

Helion was the first company in the world to offer commercial AES solutions in hardware, and given this head start, our cores are now extremely well proven in real silicon products many times over. Our latest generation AES cores are extremely simple to use, and highly versatile, so that they can be easily integrated into any AES design requirement.

We offer a range of AES cores with different gatecount/speed combinations, so that you can choose the most efficient for your application. We are proud to say that our solutions are class leading in each category.

For ultra-low gatecount applications at low data rates, use the Helion TINY core (for data rates up to 100Mbps)...the smallest complete AES solution in the world.
For ultimate gate efficiency and medium data rates, use the Helion STANDARD core (for data rates up to 500Mbps)...the most efficient solutions available.
For a combination of high speed and efficiency, use the Helion FAST core (for data rates up to 3Gbps)...the fastest low latency solutions available.
For ultra high data rates, use the Helion GIGA core (for data rates up to and beyond 40Gbps)...the very fastest solutions available.

Each core type comes in versions for encryption and decryption, and offers support for any of the AES keysizes (128-, 192- and 256-bits), either separately or in combination.

Our cores are available in versions specifically aimed at a number of target technologies; generic RTL source code for use in ASICs, and highly optimised netlists for use with Altera, Lattice, Microsemi (Actel) and Xilinx FPGA technology. Our FPGA cores use highly developed techniques which permit our programmable solutions to come close to the performance of ASIC.

In addition, we offer options unique to Helion, which provide especially low gatecount versions where space and power consumption are paramount; please contact us for more details on these solutions.

Typical Performance
Notes Ultra Low Gatecount High Efficiency High Speed with Low latency Ultra High Speed
ASIC >30 Mbps >500 Mbps >3 Gbps >40 Gbps
FPGA >20 Mbps >350 Mbps >2 Gbps >25 Gbps

For full details of speed and area in various end target technologies, follow the links to TINY, STANDARD, FAST or GIGA AES, according to your application.

Product Briefs

For full details of all the Helion AES core options, please download the appropriate Product Brief in PDF format below.

AES Cores - ASIC
AES Cores - FPGA
Click here for an easy to read overview on AES in hardware (PDF format)


For more detailed information on this or any of our other products and services, please feel free to email us at helioncores@heliontech.com and we will be pleased to discuss how we can assist with your individual requirements.

Product Brief Quicklinks
AES Cores - ASIC
AES Cores - FPGA
What about FIPS compliance?

All Helion AES cores have been successfully FIPS certified. Click here for full details.....
Looking for AES modes....?
Are you new to AES....?

Take a look at our Whitepaper for an easy to read overview on AES in hardware.....

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