Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Gregory D. Peterson

Committee Members

Syed Islam, Nathanael Paul


A System-on-Programmable-Chip (SoPC) architecture is designed to meet two goals: to provide a role-based secure computing environment and to allow for user reconfiguration. To accomplish this, a secure root of trust is derived from a fixed architectural subsystem, known as the Security Controller. It additionally provides a dynamically configurable single point of access between applications developed by users and the objects those applications use. The platform provides a model for secrecy such that physical recovery of any one component in isolation does not compromise the system. Dual-factor authentication is used to verify users. A model is also provided for tamper reaction. Secure boot, encrypted instruction, data, and Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) configuration are also explored.

The system hardware is realized using Altera Avalon SoPC with a NIOS II processor and custom hardware acting as the Security Controller and a second NIOS II acting as the subject application configuration. A DE2 development kit from Altera hosting a Cyclone II FPGA is used along with a Secure Digital (SD) card and a custom printed circuit board (PCB) containing a second Cyclone II to demonstrate the system.

User applications were successfully run on the system which demonstrated the secure boot process, system tamper reaction, dynamic role-based access to the security objects, dual-factor authentication, and the execution of encrypted code by the subject processor. Simulations provided detailed examinations of the system execution. Actual tests were conducted on the physical hardware successfully.

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