HMAC HWIP Technical Specification



This document specifies HMAC hardware IP functionality. This module conforms to the OpenTitan guideline for peripheral device functionality. See that document for integration overview within the broader OpenTitan top level system.


  • HMAC with SHA256 hash algorithm
  • HMAC-SHA256, SHA256 dual mode
  • 256-bit secret key
  • 16 x 32-bit Message buffer


The HMAC module is a SHA-256 hash based authentication code generator to check the integrity of an incoming message and a signature signed with the same secret key. It generates a different authentication code with the same message if the secret key is different.

This HMAC implementation is not hardened against side channel or fault injection attacks. It is meant purely for hashing acceleration. If hardened MAC operations are required, users should use either KMAC or a software implementation.

The 256-bit secret key is written in KEY_0 to KEY_7. The message to authenticate is written to MSG_FIFO and the HMAC generates a 256-bit digest value which can be read from DIGEST_0 to DIGEST_7. The hash_done interrupt is raised to report to software that the final digest is available.

The HMAC IP can run in SHA-256-only mode, whose purpose is to check the correctness of the received message. The same digest registers above are used to represent the hash result. SHA-256 mode doesn’t use the given secret key. It generates the same result with the same message every time.

The software doesn’t need to provide the message length. The HMAC IP will calculate the length of the message received between 1 being written to CMD.hash_start and 1 being written to CMD.hash_process.

This version doesn’t have many defense mechanisms but is able to wipe internal variables such as the secret key, intermediate hash results H, digest and the message FIFO. It does not wipe the software accessible 16x32b FIFO. The software can wipe the variables by writing a 32-bit random value into WIPE_SECRET register. The internal variables will be reset to the written value. This version of the HMAC doesn’t have a internal pseudo-random number generator to derive the random number from the written seed number.

A later update may provide an interface for external hardware IPs, such as a key manager, to update the secret key. It will also have the ability to send the digest directly to a shared internal bus.