[tor-dev] SHA-3 isn't looking so hot to me (was: Draft sketch document with ideas for future crypto ops)

Zooko O'Whielacronx zooko at zooko.com
Tue Nov 1 17:34:03 UTC 2011

On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 5:50 AM, Watson Ladd <watsonbladd at gmail.com> wrote:
> Turns out that almost everything you said about SHA3 vs SHA256 performance is wrong:

I should have specified that from the page I referenced --
http://bench.cr.yp.to/results-hash.html -- I was looking at the first
x86_64 machine: amd64 Sandy Bridge (206a7); 2011 Intel Core i7-2600K;
4 x 3400MHz; "sandy0" and the first ARM machine: armeabi (v7-A, Cortex
A8); 2009 Freescale i.MX515; 1 x 800MHz; "gcc33". Given that I was
using the numbers from those two machines, I believe what I wrote was

Now, perhaps those weren't the right machines to use for examples. My
reasoning was that they are the newest and most efficient of their
respective instruction sets, so they're likely to be more
representative of their successors. I don't know why SHA-256 was
slower on the ARMv6 that you mentioned.

> Furthermore, crypto efficiency is less likely to be a bottleneck on a client then a node: server architectures matter much more because we do a lot more crypto on them. (This isn't true for each connection but servers handle more connections then clients.)

My letter, to which you replied is a quantitative argument to the
contrary. The bottom line quantities that I came up with were that if
you used 100% of one Sandy Bridge core, then you could hash at least
190 Mbytes/s, even with the less efficient of the two hash functions
(SHA-256), and if you used 10% of a Cortex-A8, then you could hash at
least 2.5 Mbytes/s even with the less efficient of the two

As far as I understand, the case where a server would be asked to
handle more than 190 Mbytes/s will be rarer than the case where a
client will be asked to handle more than 2.5 Mbytes/s, during the
lifetime of the next version of the Tor protocol. I don't know much
about Tor performance so I could be all wrong about that.

Now, maybe the assumption that you can afford to dedicate 100% of a
server core but only 10% of the embedded CPU is wrong. Even if you
change the assumption to 50% of one server core vs. 50% of your
embedded CPU, the server will probably still be network-limited but
the embedded chip may be CPU-limited.

> Secondly SHA256 is already weaker then an ideal hash function.
> and SHA3 is designed to be a better approximation to a random oracle then SHA2.

I'm aware of these considerations, and I don't disagree! Thank you for
bringing them up. But they don't prove that SHA-256 will prove
vulnerable to any real attack. Likewise, there could be some
unforeseen critical weakness in a SHA-3 candidate. We don't have any
proof one way or the other about these questions. My personal,
under-informed guess is that none of SHA-256, Blake, Skein will prove
vulnerable to any real attack during the lifespan of the next version
of the Tor protocol.

I would be interested in other people's personal guesses about that
question, especially if you've studied the actual algorithms and
attacks closely.



More information about the tor-dev mailing list