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Modes of AES

AES modes

In cryptographic terms, a "mode" is used to change the behaviour of the underlying block cipher (in this case AES), so that it has more useful properties. Modes are therefore a powerful way to enhance security, alter the behaviour of encryption in the face of data errors, or provide authentication instead of (or in addition to) encryption.

If you are not familiar with the concept of block cipher modes, please take a look at our AES modes backgrounder page where we explain all this in more detail.

Mode support in Helion AES cores

Helion AES cores are designed to support any mode or combination of modes. Some of the most popular modes are listed in the table below, but if you are looking for a mode not mentioned here, please contact us for more information.

MODE Name of mode Encryption Authentication
ECB Electronic Code Book
CBC Cipher Block Chaining
CFB Cipher FeedBack
OFB Output FeedBack
CTR Counter Mode
XTS AES-XTS (XEX) Tweakable Blk Cipher
CCM Counter with CBC-MAC
GCM Galois Counter Mode
CMAC One-key MAC (aka OMAC)

Helion also offers support for multiple modes which can be dynamically selected, for occasions where more than one protocol must be supported. Please contact Helion for more information.

Key wrapping, where a session key is protected by encryption for transfer or storage, is also easily implemented using Helion's AES solutions. Ready made solutions are available using the NIST and ANS standard algorithms. Please see our specific Key wrap page for full details.

For complete flexibility, Helion has an AES Processor core which includes a powerful programmable datapath capable of implementing any combination of the common block cipher modes plus many of the newer enhanced modes of AES. This solution is particularly useful when committing to ASIC silicon ahead of knowing what mode you need to implement. In this case, the AES Processor core then gives you full programmability in the field, plus support for almost any mode, including the more advanced combined encryption and authentication modes like CCM. See our AES Processor page for more information.


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.

What is meant by a mode of AES....?

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