Theory of Operation

The following sections give an overview of the life cycle function. It begins with life cycle sensing at power up, progresses through how life cycle transitions are made, and then focuses specifically on how life cycle impacts various functionality of the design.

Power Up Sequence

Upon power up, the life cycle controller will default to “RAW” state and wait for the OTP controller to initialize and sense the contents of the life cycle partition. When the OTP is ready, the life cycle controller reads the contents of the life cycle partition, decodes the life cycle state and updates its internal state to match. This implies that unlike the life cycle definition diagram, there is a one-time “RAW to any state” logical transition that is implicit within the implementation. Note during OTP sensing, the life cycle controller does not perform any redundant checks upon the value it reads; instead that responsibility is allocated to the OTP controller.

Once the state values are correctly sensed, the life cycle controller performs checks on state consistency and dependencies, and if correct, broadcasts both the raw state value as well as the decoded functional outputs to the rest of the device.

Once the broadcast is complete and signals stable, modules held under reset by “sys_rst_n” are then released from reset to begin mission mode operations (this includes the processor). Note this point is also when it is safe for DFT to commence operations, as DFT functions may be blocked until life cycle completes its broadcast.

The following diagram illustrates this power-up sequence. Note the sequence is not designed into one specific module, but rather a result of coordination between the OTP controller, life cycle controller and the reset / power controllers.

LC Power Up Sequence

Normal Operation

Once the life cycle system is powered up and stable, its outputs remain static unless specifically requested to change or affected by security escalation. The life cycle controller can accept change requests from software as well as external entities.

Unconditional Transitions

For unconditional transitions, the life cycle controller advances the state by requesting an OTP update to the OTP controller. Once the programming is confirmed, the life cycle controller reports a success to the requesting agent and waits for the device to reboot.

Conditional Transitions

For conditional transitions, such as those that require a token (RAW_UNLOCK, TEST_UNLOCK, TEST_EXIT, RMA_UNLOCK), the life cycle controller advances the state via OTP programming only after it is supplied with the valid token. Some tokens are hardcoded design constants, while others are stored in OTP. Note that conditional transitions will only be allowed if the OTP partition holding the corresponding token has been provisioned and locked.

Since unlock tokens are considered secret, they are not stored in their raw form. Instead, the tokens are wrapped and unwrapped based on a global constant using a PRESENT-based scrambling mechanism. This ensures that a breach of fuse physical security does not automatically expose all the relevant information without also breaking the constant key.

RAW_UNLOCK is not exposed in the open source design, rather it is something provisioned by the silicon creators prior to tapeout. It is the only token among those listed that is a global constant and stored in gates.

All others CAN be device unique and are stored in OTP.

Transition Counter Limits

For conditional transitions, there is a limit to how many times they can be attempted. This is to prevent an attacker from brute-forcing any specific token, as this also helps to reduce the overall required token size.

For OpenTitan, the total amount of state transitions and transition attempts is limited to 24. Once this number is reached, the life cycle controller rejects further attempts, effectively locking the device into its current state.

The token counters are maintained in the OTP. To ensure the security of token limits cannot be bypassed, each request for a conditional transition FIRST increments the token count, and THEN checks for the validity of the token.

Token Hashing Mechanism

All 128bit lock and unlock tokens are passed through a cryptographic one way function in hardware before the life cycle controller compares them to the provisioned values in OTP or to the netlist constant in case of RAW_UNLOCK.

This mechanism is used to guard against reverse engineering and brute-forcing attempts. An attacker able to extract the hashed token values from the scrambled OTP partitions or from the netlist would first have to find a hash collision in order to perform a life cycle transition, since the values supplied to the life cycle controller must be valid hash pre-images.

The employed one way function is a 128bit cSHAKE hash with the function name “” and customization string “LC_CTRL”, see also kmac documentation and

Post Transition Handling

After a transition request, whether it was unconditional or conditional, the life cycle controller always disables all of its decoded outputs and puts the system in an inert state. The device is then expected to reboot before returning to a functional state.

Note this happens for either successful or unsuccessful transitions. This general policy places a time-bound on how quickly life cycle states can change and also forces the device to behave more predictably.

Security Escalation

The life cycle controller contains two escalation paths that are connected to escalation severities 1 and 2 of the alert handler.

The two escalation paths are redundant, and both trigger the same mechanism. Upon assertion of any of the two escalation actions, the life cycle state is TEMPORARILY altered. I.e. when this escalation path is triggered, the life cycle state is transitioned into “ESCALATE”, which behaves like a virtual “SCRAP” state (i.e. this state is not programmed into OTP). This causes all decoded outputs to be disabled until the next power cycle. In addition to that, the life cycle controller asserts the ESCALATE_EN life cycle signal which is distributed to all IPs in the design that expose an escalation action (like moving FSMs into terminal error states or clearing sensitive registers).

Whether to escalate to the life cycle controller or not is a software decision, please see the alert handler for more details.

Life Cycle Decoded Outputs and Controls

The core function of life cycle is how various functions of the design are modulated by what state the design is in. This section in the life cycle architecture documentation summarizes the overall behavior.

The signals have been split into two summary tables in the sections below. The first table contains all control signals that enable certain functionality in the system, whereas the second table contains all signals that change access to certain elements in the flash and OTP memories.

All life cycle control signals are 4-bits, with only 4'b1010 as a valid enable value, and all others meaning “disable”. A "Y" mark means the function is directly enabled by hardware during that state. A "grey" box means a particular function is not available during that state. The states in RED are volatile, temporary states. They exist only after specific events, and are restored to normal once the device is power cycled.

Life Cycle Function Control Signals

The individual signals summarized in the table below are described in the following subsections.

RAW See life cycle definition table Y*Y*

Signals marked with an asterisk (Y*) are only asserted under certain conditions as explained in detail below.


As its name implies, this signal enables DFT functions. This is accomplished primarily by providing functional isolation on the SOC inserted DFT TAP module and any other memory macros that are built natively with a DFT function (for example flash and OTP).

The isolation ensures three things:

  • The TAP controller is unable to issue instructions that would put the design into scan mode. This ensures that secrets cannot be scanned out, and specific values cannot be scanned into the design to emulate a particular functional mode
  • The TAP controller is unable to issue any kind of self test that would disrupt and scramble live logic which could lead to unpredictable behavior
  • The TAP controller or test function is unable to alter the non-volatile contents of flash or OTP

See TAP isolation for more implementation details.


NVM modules like flash implement debug access that bypasses memory protection or lock-down. This feature may be there for a variety of reasons, but primarily it can be used to debug the normal behavior of the controller.

This type of functionality, if it exists, must be disabled during specific life cycle states. Since these back-door functions may bypass memory protection, they could be used to read out provisioned secrets that are not meant to be visible to software or a debug host.

Note that NVM_DEBUG_EN is disabled in the last test unlocked state (TEST_UNLOCKED7) such that the isolated flash partition can be securely populated, without exposing its contents via the NVM backdoor interface. See also accessibility description of the isolated flash partition.


HW_DEBUG_EN refers to the general ungating of both invasive (JTAG control of the processor, bidirectional analog test points) and non-invasive debug (debug bus observation, and register access error returns).

This signal thus needs to be routed to all security-aware and debug capable peripherals. This signal is used to determine whether OpenTitan peripheral register interfaces should [silently error](../../../util/reggen/“ >}}). If HW_DEBUG_EN is set to ON, normal errors should be returned. If HW_DEBUG_EN is set to OFF, errors should return silently.

Similar to DFT_EN, HW_DEBUG_EN is also used to isolate the processor TAP. When HW_DEBUG_EN is OFF, the TAP should not be able to perform its normal debug access, thus preventing an external entity from hijacking the processor.


CPU_EN controls whether code execution is allowed. This is implemented as part of the processor’s reset controls. In OpenTitan’s reset topology, it is not possible to reset only the processor by itself, so this reset control extends to a large population of the OpenTitan peripherals.

This ensures that during specific states (RAW, TEST_LOCKED, SCRAP, INVALID) it is not possible for the processor to execute code that breaks the device out of a non-functional state.

In conjunction with DFT_EN / HW_DEBUG_EN, this acts as the final layer in life cycle defense in depth.

KEY_MANAGER_EN {#key-manager-en}

The KEY_MANAGER_EN signal allows the key manager to function normally. When this signal is logically disabled, any existing key manager collateral is uninstantiated and wiped; further instantiation and generation calls for the key manager are also made unavailable.

The KEY_MANAGER_EN signal is active only during DEV / PROD / PROD_END / RMA.


The ESCALATE_EN signal is available in all life cycle states and is asserted if for any reason the alert subsystem decides to move the life cycle state into the ESCALATION state. This signal is also unconditionally asserted in all INVALID and SCRAP states (including virtual SCRAP states).


The CHECK_BYP_EN signal is used to disable the background consistency checks of the life cycle OTP partition during life cycle transitions to prevent spurious consistency check failures (the OTP contents and the buffer registers can get out of sync during state transitions). The CHECK_BYP_EN signal is only asserted when a transition command is issued.


If the life cycle state is in RAW, TEST* or RMA, and if TRANSITION_CTRL.EXT_CLOCK_EN is set to one, the CLK_BYP_REQ signal is asserted in order to switch the main system clock to an external clock signal. This functionality is needed in certain life cycle states where the internal clock source may not be fully calibrated yet, since the OTP macro requires a stable clock frequency in order to reliably program the fuse array. Note that the TRANSITION_CTRL.EXT_CLOCK_EN register can only be set to one if the transition interface has been claimed via the CLAIM_TRANSITION_IF mutex. This function is not available in production life cycle states.

For details on the clock switch, please see clkmgr.

Life Cycle Access Control Signals

The individual signals summarized in the table below are described in the following subsections.


Signals marked with an asterisk (Y*) are only asserted under certain conditions as explained in detail below.


These signals control whether the non-volatile provisioning of life cycle related collateral can be accessed. The signals can only be active during DEV / PROD / PROD_END / RMA. During other states, it is not possible to either read or modify the collateral. This specifically limits the danger of rogue software images during any TEST_UNLOCKED state. However, as these signals only gate functional access and not DFT access, it is still possible for a malicious agent to bypass this protection by abusing scan shift/capture mechanics.

While the OWNER_SEED_SW_RW_EN is statically enabled in the states shown above, the CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN is only enabled if the device has not yet been personalized (i.e., the OTP partition holding the root key has not been locked down yet).

For more a list of the collateral in Flash and OTP and an explanation of how that collateral is affected by these signals, see the OTP collateral and flash collateral sections.


The SEED_HW_RD_EN signal controls whether the owner and creator root keys can be accessed by hardware. This signal is dependent on the personalization state of the device and will only be enabled if the device has been personalized (i.e., when the OTP partition holding the root key has been locked down).


These signals control whether the isolated flash partition holding additional manufacturing details can be accessed. The isolated partition is both read and writable during the PROD / PROD_END / RMA states. In all other states it is inaccessible, except during the TEST_UNLOCKED* states where the partition is write-only. This construction allows to write a value to that partition and keep it secret before advancing into any of the production states.

OTP Collateral

The following is a list of all life cycle related collateral stored in OTP. Most collateral also contain associated metadata to indicate when the collateral is restricted from further software access, see accessibility summary for more details. Since not all collateral is consumed by the life cycle controller, the consuming agent is also shown.

Collateral Size [Bit] Consumer Usage
LC_STATE 320 Life Cycle Controller Life cycle manufacturing state (refer to details here).
LC_TRANSITION_CNT 384 Number of total life cycle transition attempts.
TEST_UNLOCK_TOKEN 128 Token to unlock test function.
TEST_EXIT_TOKEN 128 Token to exit TEST state.
RMA_UNLOCK_TOKEN 128 Token to unlock RMA.
CREATOR_ROOT_KEY_SHARE0 256 Key Manager The root creator secret.
SECRET0_DIGEST 64 Life Cycle & OTP Controllers Digest over the SECRET0 partition containing the TEST_*_TOKEN.
SECRET2_DIGEST 64 Digest over the SECRET2 partition containing the CREATOR_ROOT_KEY* and RMA_UNLOCK_TOKEN.

The TOKENs and KEYS are considered secret data and are stored in wrapped format. Before use, the secrets are unwrapped.

The SECRET0_DIGEST and SECRET2_DIGEST are the digest values computed over the secret partitions in OTP holding the tokens and root keys. As described in more detail in the OTP controller specification, these digests have a non-zero value once the partition has been provisioned and write/read access has been locked.

ID State of the Device

If the SECRET2_DIGEST is zero, the device is considered to have “blank” ID state, in which case the CREATOR_ROOT_KEY_* (in OTP) and CREATOR_DIV_KEY (in FLASH) can be written by software. All consumers of these keys are supplied with an invalid value.

If the SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value, the device is considered “creator personalized”, and the CREATOR_ROOT_KEY and CREATOR_DIV_KEY are no longer accessible to software. Actual values are supplied to the consumers. If SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value, the CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN signal will be disabled in PROD, PROD_END and DEV states.

Secret Collateral

Among the OTP life cycle collateral, the following are considered secrets (note there may be other secrets unrelated to life cycle, please see OTP controller specification for more details):

  • *_TOKEN

Specifically this means after OTP sensing, the above entries are unwrapped to obtain the real value. Similarly, during programming, they are wrapped before beginning to be written to OTP.

The function used for this wrapping is the lightweight PRESENT-cipher. The wrapping is a one time event during controlled manufacturing, and unwrapping also cannot be supplied with arbitrary ciphertexts. Thus the system cannot be abused to generate a large number of traces for informational leakage, and thus a fully hardened cipher (such as masked AES) is not required.

Note also, a global key is used here because there is no other non-volatile location to store a secret key. If PUFs were available (either in memory form or fused form), it could become an appealing alternative to hold a device unique fuse key.

See the OTP controller for more details.

OTP Accessibility Summary and Impact of Life Cycle Signals

A subset of secret collateral is further access-controlled by the life cycle CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN signal. These are


The table below summarizes the software accessibility of all life cycle collateral.

Collateral SW Program SW Read HW Read Comments
LC_STATE no no yes Advanced only by HW. Note that these two items are exposed in decoded form in the life cycle controller CSRs.
SECRET0_DIGEST no yes yes Digest calculation and programming is SW triggered, but the actual calculation is performed by HW.
SECRET2_DIGEST no yes yes

Note that CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN is set to OFF if SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value in PROD, PROD_END and DEV states. SEED_HW_RD_EN only becomes active if SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value in DEV, PROD, PROD_END and RMA states.

Flash Collateral

The flash contains both memory mapped and non-memory mapped partitions. As it pertains to life cycle, the flash contains two sets of important collateral. They are enumerated in the table below. Just as with OTP, the consumer and usage of each is also described.

Collateral Size [Bit] Consumer Usage
CREATOR_DIV_KEY 256 Key Manager DiversificationKey: diversification secret for creator identity.
OWNER_ROOT_SECRET 256 OwnerRootSecret: diversification secret for owner identity.

Each collateral belongs to a separate flash partition, the table below enumerates the partition and whether the partition is memory mapped.

Collateral Partition Memory Mapped?

The general flash partition refers to any software managed storage in flash, and is not a specific carve out in the non-memory mapped area.

Flash Accessibility Summary and Impact of Life Cycle Signals

The creator software is trusted to manage the owner partition (OWNER_DATA). As such, OWNER_DATA remains accessible during DEV / PROD / PROD_END / RMA states, irrespective of the device personalization state. It is expected that ROM_ext during secure boot programs the protection correctly such that downstream software has appropriate permissions.

The CREATOR_DATA partitions however, are further qualified based on the personalization state of the device. Just as with OTP, the table below enumerates accessibility of flash collateral.

Collateral SW Program SW Erase SW Read HW Read Comments
CREATOR_DATA CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN == ON SEED_HW_RD_EN == ON Similar control to creator collateral in OTP.
OWNER_DATA OWNER_SEED_SW_RW_EN == ON yes Follows normal software isolation rules.

Note that CREATOR_SEED_SW_RW_EN is set to OFF if SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value in PROD, PROD_END and DEV states. SEED_HW_RD_EN only becomes active if SECRET2_DIGEST has a nonzero value in DEV, PROD, PROD_END and RMA states. OWNER_SEED_SW_RW_EN is always enabled during DEV, PROD, PROD_END and RMA states.

See also Device Life Cycle Architecture for more information on creator/owner isolation.

Hardware Interfaces


Note that parameters prefixed with RndCnst are random netlist constants that need to be regenerated via topgen before the tapeout (typically by the silicon creator).

ParameterDefault (Max)Top EarlgreyDescription
IdcodeValue32'h0000000132'h00000001Idcode for the LC JTAG TAP.
RndCnstLcKeymgrDivInvalid(see RTL)(see RTL)Life cycle state group diversification value for keymgr.
RndCnstLcKeymgrDivTestDevRma(see RTL)(see RTL)Life cycle state group diversification value for keymgr.
RndCnstLcKeymgrDivProduction(see RTL)(see RTL)Life cycle state group diversification value for keymgr.


jtag_iinputjtag_pkg::jtag_req_tJTAG input signals for life cycle TAP.
jtag_ooutputjtag_pkg::jtag_rsp_tJTAG output signals for life cycle TAP.
esc_scrap_state0_tx_iinputprim_esc_pkg::esc_tx_tEscalation input from alert handler. Moves the life cycle state into an invalid state upon assertion.
esc_scrap_state0_rx_ooutputprim_esc_pkg::esc_rx_tEscalation feedback to alert handler
esc_scrap_state1_tx_iinputprim_esc_pkg::esc_tx_tEscalation input from alert handler. Moves the life cycle state into an invalid state upon assertion.
esc_scrap_state1_rx_ooutputprim_esc_pkg::esc_rx_tEscalation feedback to alert handler
pwr_lc_iinputpwrmgr::pwr_lc_req_tInitialization request coming from power manager.
pwr_lc_ooutputpwrmgr::pwr_lc_rsp_tInitialization response and programming idle state going to power manager.
lc_otp_program_ooutputotp_ctrl_pkg::lc_otp_program_req_tLife cycle state transition request.
lc_otp_program_iinputotp_ctrl_pkg::lc_otp_program_rsp_tLife cycle state transition response.
kmac_data_ooutputkmac_pkg::app_req_tLife cycle RAW token hashing request.
kmac_data_iinputkmac_pkg::app_rsp_tLife cycle RAW token hashing response.
otp_lc_data_iinputotp_ctrl_pkg::otp_lc_data_tLife cycle state output holding the current life cycle state, the value of the transition counter and the tokens needed for life cycle transitions.
lc_keymgr_div_ooutputlc_keymgr_div_tLife cycle state group diversification value.
lc_flash_rma_seed_ooutputlc_flash_rma_seed_tSeed for flash RMA.
otp_device_id_iinputotp_device_id_tHW_CFG bits from OTP (DEVICE_ID_0).
otp_manuf_state_iinputotp_manuf_state_tHW_CFG bits from OTP (MANUF_STATE_0).
lc_otp_vendor_test_ooutputotp_ctrl_pkg::lc_otp_vendor_test_req_tVendor-specific test bits to OTP (OTP_VENDOR_TEST_CTRL).
lc_otp_vendor_test_iinputotp_ctrl_pkg::lc_otp_vendor_test_rsp_tVendor-specific test bits to OTP (OTP_VENDOR_TEST_STATUS).
lc_dft_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_nvm_debug_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_hw_debug_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_cpu_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_creator_seed_sw_rw_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_owner_seed_sw_rw_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_iso_part_sw_rd_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_iso_part_sw_wr_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_seed_hw_rd_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_keymgr_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_escalate_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_check_byp_en_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_clk_byp_req_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_clk_byp_ack_ioutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_flash_rma_req_ooutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.
lc_flash_rma_ack_ioutputlc_tx_tMultibit control signal.

Power Manager Interface

The power manager interface is comprised of three signals overall: an initialization request (pwr_lc_i.lc_init), an initialization done response (pwr_lc_o.lc_done) and an idle indicator (pwr_lc_o.lc_idle).

The power manager asserts pwr_lc_i.lc_init in order to signal to the life cycle controller that it can start initialization, and the life cycle controller signals completion of the initialization sequence by asserting pwr_lc_o.lc_done (the signal will remain high until reset).

The idle indication signal pwr_lc_o.lc_idle indicates that the life cycle controller is idle. If this bit is 0, the life cycle controller is either not initialized or in the middle of carrying out a life cycle state transition. The power manager uses that indication to determine whether a power down request needs to be aborted.

Since the power manager may run in a different clock domain, the pwr_lc_i.lc_init signal is synchronized within the life cycle controller. The power manager is responsible for synchronizing the pwr_lc_o.lc_done and pwr_lc_o.lc_idle signals.

See also power manager documentation.

OTP Interfaces

All interfaces to and from OTP are explained in detail in the OTP Specification Document.

KMAC Interface

The life cycle controller interfaces with KMAC through a side load interface in the same way as the key manager. Since the KMAC and life cycle controller are in different clock domains, the KMAC interface signals are synchronized to the life cycle clock inside the life cycle controller.

Control Signal Propagation

For better security, all the life cycle control signals are broadcast in multi-bit form. The active ON state for every signal is broadcast as 4'b1010, while the inactive OFF state is encoded as 4'b0101. For all life cycle signals except the escalation signal ESCALATE_EN, all values different from ON must be interpreted as OFF in RTL. In case of ESCALATE_EN, all values different from OFF must be interpreted as ON in RTL.

Since many signals cross clock boundaries, their synchronization needs to be taken into account. However, since the ON / OFF encoding above has been chosen such that all bits toggle exactly once for a transition from OFF to ON (and vice-versa), all that needs to be done is guard against metastability using a two-stage synchronizer, as illustrated below.

Multibit Sync

In other words, since each bit in the encoding flips exactly once upon an OFF -> ON or ON -> OFF transition, we can guarantee that there are no transient patterns toggling back and forth between enabling and disabling a function. Note that even though synchronization can be achieved with a simple two-stage synchronizer, designs must use the prim_lc_sync primitive. This primitive has additional LC-specific assertions and provides a parametric amount of separately buffered copies of the life cycle signal to prevent logic optimization by the synthesis tool (buffers have a ‘size_only’ constraint in synthesis). For all signals except ESCALATE_EN, it is recommended to structure the design such that at least two separately buffered copies of the life cycle signals have to be consumed in order to unlock a certain function.

Key Manager Interface

The lc_keymgr_div_o signal is a 128bit diversification constant that is output to the key manager once the life cycle controller has initialized, and is asserted at the same time as lc_keymgr_en_o. Depending on which group the life cycle state is in, this signal is assigned a different random netlist constant as defined in the table below.

Life Cycle State GroupAssigned Diversification Constant
PROD, PROD_ENDLcKeymgrDivProduction
All Other StatesLcKeymgrDivInvalid

Note that this signal is quasistatic. It is hence recommended to place a max-delay constraint on it and leverage the synchronized version of lc_keymgr_en_o to enable any downstream register in different clock domains than the life cycle controller.

Design Details

Block Diagram

Conceptually speaking, the life cycle controller consists of a large FSM that is further subdivided into logical modules for maintainability, as illustrated below. All blue blocks in the block diagram are purely combinational and do not contain any registers.

LC Controller Block Diagram

The main FSM implements a linear state sequence that always moves in one direction for increased glitch resistance. I.e., it never returns to the initialization and broadcast states as described in the life cycle state controller section.

The main FSM state is redundantly encoded, and augmented with the life cycle state. That augmented state vector is consumed by three combinational submodules:

  • lc_ctrl_state_decode: This submodule decodes the redundantly encoded life cycle state, checks that there are no encoding errors and enforces state dependencies as required by the definition. The decoded state is forwarded to the CSRs for SW consumption.
  • lc_ctrl_transition: This submodule checks whether the transition target state specified via the CSRs is valid, and computes the redundantly encoded state vector of the transition target state.
  • lc_ctrl_signal_decode: This submodule is an output function only and derives the life cycle control signals (colored in blue) from the augmented state vector.

Note that the two additional life cycle control signals lc_flash_rma_req_o and lc_clk_byp_req_o are output by the main FSM, since they cannot be derived from the life cycle state alone and are reactive in nature in the sense that there is a corresponding acknowledgement signal.

The life cycle controller contains a JTAG TAP that can be used to access the same CSR space that is accessible via TL-UL. In order to write to the CSRs, a hardware mutex has to be claimed.

The life cycle controller also contains two escalation receivers that are connected to escalation severity 1 and 2 of the alert handler module. The actions that are triggered by these escalation receivers are explained in the escalation handling section below.

System Integration and TAP Isolation

The figure below provides more context about how the life cycle controller is integrated into the system, and how its control signals interact with various components.

LC Controller Block Diagram

Although technically a life cycle feature, the sampling of the strap pins and JTAG / TAP isolation is performed in the pinmux after the life cycle controller has initialized. See pinmux documentation and the detailed selection listed in Life Cycle Definition Table.

Life Cycle Manufacturing State Encodings

The encoding of the life-cycle state is used both for OTP storage and as part of the FSM state in the life cycle controller. In other words the state stored within OTP is not re-encoded before it is consumed as part of the life cycle controller FSM state.

State \ Halfword 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
RAW 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEST_UNLOCKED0 B0 A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED0 B0 B1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED1 B0 B1 B2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED1 B0 B1 B2 B3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED2 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED2 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED3 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 A7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED3 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 A8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED4 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 A9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED4 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED5 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED5 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 A12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED6 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 A13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_LOCKED6 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 A14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
TEST_UNLOCKED7 B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 A15 A16 A17 A18 A19
DEV B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 B15 A16 A17 A18 A19
PROD B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 A15 B16 A17 A18 A19
PROD_END B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 A15 A16 B17 A18 A19
RMA B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 B15 B16 A17 B18 B19
SCRAP B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 B15 B16 B17 B18 B19

Any decoding that does not fall into the table above is considered INVALID.

Each word in the table above maps to an ECC protected 16bit OTP word (i.e., 16bit + 6bit ECC). Further, each Ax/Bx word used in the LC state is a unique, random netlist constant generated by the silicon creator prior to tapeout based on a custom seed and the employed ECC polynomial. The values Bx are constructed such that {Bx,ECC(Bx)} can be incrementally written over {Ax,ECC(Ax)} without producing any ECC errors.

The purpose of this encoding is to ensure the following

  • It is difficult to jump from PROD / PROD_END / SCRAP into DEV
  • It is difficult to jump from DEV / PROD / PROD_END / SCRAP into TEST*
  • It is difficult to jump from DEV / PROD / PROD_END / SCRAP into RMA

Further, the encoding has been chosen to minimize the probability of successful glitch attacks attempting to alter the value of bits in the life cycle state. In particular, this encoding guards against attacks that manipulate the OTP to output all-zeros, or attacks that manipulate the OTP to read from other address locations within OTP to inject specific values.

Note that the RAW state is guarded by the RAW_UNLOCK process, which involves supplying a 128bit UNLOCK_TOKEN and performing a full system reset in case the token was correct. Hence moving the state into RAW does not provide any advantage to an attacker.

The encoded life cycle state is not readable by SW in any way through the OTP or life cycle interfaces. However a decoded version of the manufacturing life cycle is exposed in the LC_STATE register.

Life Cycle Readout Consistency Checks in OTP

In order to guard against glitch attacks during OTP sense and readout, the OTP controller makes sure to read out the life cycle partition before releasing the state to the life cycle controller. I.e., the OTP controller senses and buffers the life cycle in registers in a first readout pass. Then, as part of the consistency check mechanism, the OTP controller performs a second and third readout pass to verify whether the buffered life cycle state indeed corresponds to the values stored in OTP. The second readout pass uses a linearly increasing address sequence, whereas the third readout pass uses a linearly decreasing address sequence (i.e., reads in reverse order).

Transition Counter Encoding

The life cycle transition counter has 24 strokes where each stroke maps to one 16bit OTP word. The strokes are similarly encoded as the life cycle state in the sense that upon the first transition attempt, all words are initialized with unique Cx values that can later be overwritten with unique Dx values without producing an ECC error.

Strokes \ Halfword 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
0 strokes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 stroke D0 C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 C12 C13 C14 C15 C16 C17 C18 C19 C20 C21 C22 C23
2 strokes D0 D1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 C12 C13 C14 C15 C16 C17 C18 C19 C20 C21 C22 C23
3 strokes D0 D1 D2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 C12 C13 C14 C15 C16 C17 C18 C19 C20 C21 C22 C23
24 strokes D0 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11 D12 D13 D14 D15 D16 D17 D18 D19 D20 D21 D22 D23

Upon each life cycle transition attempt, the life cycle controller FIRST increments the transition counter before initiating any token hashing and comparison operations.

A decoded version of this counter is exposed in the LC_TRANSITION_CNT register.

Life Cycle State Controller

The life cycle state controller is the main entity that handles life cycle requests, escalation events and transactions with the OTP and flash controllers. The state diagram for the controller FSM is shown below.

LC Controller FSM

Once the FSM has initialized upon request from the power manager, it moves into IdleSt, which is the state where all life cycle control signals are broadcast. The life cycle controller stays in IdleSt unless a life cycle state request is initiated via the CSRs.

In that case, the life cycle controller first increments the redundantly encoded life cycle transition counter in CntIncrSt and CntProgSt in order to fend against brute force attacks. Then, the transition is checked for validity in TransCheckSt and the token hashing operation is initiated in TokenHashSt. A first token comparison is performed when the hashed token returns in TokenHashSt, followed by two more comparisons in TokenCheck0St and TokenCheck1St. The difference among these three comparisons is that the first comparison is done using the hashed token input directly, whereas the second and the third comparison use a registered version of the hashed token. If all token checks are successful, the next life cycle state vector is computed and programmed in TransProgSt.

Note that an initiated life cycle transition request always ends in PostTransSt, no matter whether the transition is successful or not.

Escalation Handling

The life cycle controller contains two escalation channels that are connected to the alert handler.

When the first channel esc_wipe_secrets is asserted, the life cycle controller permanently asserts the lc_escalate_en life cycle signal. That signal is routed to various security modules in OpenTitan and triggers local wiping and invalidation features. Note that this first escalation action does not affect the life cycle state.

When the second channel esc_scrap_state is asserted, the life cycle controller moves the life cycle state into EscalateSt, which behaves like a “virtual” SCRAP life cycle state. This transition is not permanent, and will clear upon the next power cycle. Note that any scrap state (virtual or encoded in the life cycle state vector) will also cause the lc_escalate_en life cycle signal to be asserted.

FSM Glitch Countermeasures

The FSM has been designed to have a linear control flow that always moves in the same direction, and that always ends in a terminal state after initiating a transition request in order to make glitch attacks harder. A sparse FSM state encoding is employed, where each state is encoded as a 16bit word with a minimum Hamming distance of 5 w.r.t. any other state. The FSM state and the life cycle state vector are concurrently monitored, and if an erroneous encoding is detected, the life cycle FSM is immediately moved into the terminal InvalidSt, and a fatal_state_error alert is asserted.

Life Cycle Request Interface

Life cycle requests are the explicit requests made to change life cycle states. The controller allows requests to come from either the TAP or the software interface. The interface is common between the two and is maintained as a CSR interface. To arbitrate between the two, a hardware mutex needs to be obtained before either side can proceed. The hardware mutex internally acts as a mux to block off the unselected path and all accesses to the request interface are blocked until it is claimed. If two requests arrive simultaneously, the TAP interface is given priority.

The request interface consists of 7 registers:

  1. TRANSITION_CTRL: Control register for the transition, can be used to switch to an external clock.
  2. TRANSITION_TARGET: Specifies the target state to which the agent wants to transition.
  3. TRANSITION_TOKEN_*: Any necessary token for conditional transitions.
  4. TRANSITION_CMD: Start the life cycle transition.
  5. STATUS: Indicates whether the requested transition succeeded.
  6. OTP_VENDOR_TEST_CTRL: See Macro-specific test control bits.
  7. OTP_VENDOR_TEST_STATUS: See Macro-specific test control bits.

If the transition fails, the cause will be reported in this register as well.

See diagram below.

LC Request Interface

In order to claim the hardware mutex, the value kMuBi8True must be written to the claim register (CLAIM_TRANSITION_IF). If the register reads back as kMuBi8True, then the mutex is claimed, and the interface that won arbitration can continue operations. If the value is not read back, then the requesting interface should wait and try again later. Note that all transition registers (with the exception of the STATUS register) read back all-zero if the mutex is not claimed.

When an agent is done with the mutex, it releases the mutex by explicitly writing a 0 to the claim register. This resets the mux to select no one and also holds the request interface in reset.

Vendor-specific Test Control Register

Certain OTP macros require special configuration bits to be set during the test phases. Likewise, it is necessary to expose macro-specific status bits during the test phases. To this end, the life cycle CSRs contain the OTP_VENDOR_TEST_CTRL and OTP_VENDOR_TEST_STATUS registers, which are reserved for vendor-specific test control and status bits. These registers are only active during RAW, TEST_* and RMA life cycle states. In all other life cycle states, the status register reads back all-zero, and the control register value will be tied to 0 before forwarding it to the OTP macro.

Similarly to the Life Cycle Request Interface, the hardware mutex must be claimed in order to access both of these registers. Note that these registers read back all-zero if the mutex is not claimed.

TAP Construction and Isolation

Life Cycle TAP Controller

The life cycle TAP controller is functionally very similar to the RISC-V debug module for the Ibex processor and reuses the same debug transport module (DTM) and the associated debug module interface (DMI). The DTM and DMI are specified as part of the RISC-V external debug specification, v0.13 and essentially provide a simple mechanism to read and write to a register space. In the case of the life cycle TAP controller this register space is essentially the life cycle CSR space. Hence, the register table is identical for both the SW view and the view through the DMI, with the only difference that the byte offsets have to be converted to word offsets for the DMI.

The RISC-V external debug specification defines the two custom JTAG registers 0x10 (DTM control/status) and 0x11 (DMI). The former provides status info such as idle state, number of address bits and RISC-V specification version plus reset control. The latter exposes an address, data and operation field for accessing a CSR space.

In order to interact with the LC controller through JTAG, the debugging agent should read out the abits field from 0x10 in order to determine the address width in the DMI, and verify that the version field is indeed set to 1 to confirm that the DTM implements v0.13 of the spec. Then, the debugger can issue a CSR read or write operation via the 0x11 register as explained in more detail in the RISC-V external specification, Chapter 6.1.5.

TAP and Isolation

As currently defined, the life cycle controller TAP is a separate entity from the main SOC DFT TAP and the processor TAP. This physical separation aids in logical isolation, as the SOC DFT tap can be disabled by DFT_EN, while the processor TAP can be disabled by DEBUG_EN. The TAP isolation and multiplexing is implemented in the pinmux IP as described here.