Department of Computer Science and Technology

CTSRD

CTSRD – Rethinking the hardware-software interface for security

PIs: Robert N. M. Watson (University of Cambridge), Simon W. Moore (University of Cambridge), Peter Sewell (University of Cambridge), and Peter Neumann (SRI International)


CHERI tablet photo

October 2020: We have posted CHERI ISAv8. This ISA version is synchronized to Arm's Morello architecture, as well as presenting a mature version of our CHERI-RISC-V ISA.

September 2020: Arm has published its Morello architecture specification, a fully elaborated integration of the CHERI protection model into their ARMv8-A architecture. This architecture will appear in their Arm Morello processor, SoC, and board in late 2021. This work is part of the UKRI Digital Security by Design programme

September 2019: Learn about the CHERI architecture! Our technical report An Introduction to CHERI is a high-level summary of our work on CHERI architecture, microarchitecture, formal modeling, and software.

Clean Slate Trustworthy Secure Research and Development (CTSRD - pronounced "custard") is a joint research project between SRI International's Computer Science Laboratory and the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, supported by DARPA (part of the DARPA CRASH programme) and Google. The project is revisiting the hardware-software security interface for general-purpose CPUs to fundamentally improve security; to this end, we are integrating a hybrid capability model and continuous hardware-assisted validation of security design principles with a commodity CPU ISA and open source operating systems. We are pursuing several new software/hardware features as part of this research:

There is a strong interest, throughout, in judiciously applying formal methodology and bringing formally grounded techniques to mainstream hardware and software development. This work has motivated the creation of the Bluespec extensible RISC implementation – an open-source platform for research into the hardware-software interface, with a BSD-licensed operating system and toolchain based on FreeBSD and Clang/LLVM. We are using open source, wherever possible, to transition new technologies into mainstream use.

CTSRD builds on long past experience at both institutions in security and systems research, including Multics, PSOS, the Newcastle DSS, separation kernels, the DARPA CHATS programme, PVS/SAL/YICES, LynuxWorks, the CAP computer, the MAC Framework, multi-threaded CPU design, Xen, Capsicum, and MirageOS.

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