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SubjectRe: [PATCH,RFC] random: make fast_mix() honor its name
On Sun, Sep 22, 2013 at 11:01:42PM +0200, Jörg-Volker Peetz wrote:
> just out of interest I would like to ask why this mixing function has to be that
> complicated. For example, even if the input is always 0 and the pool is seeded
> with pool[0] = 1 (as in your test program) this algorithm generates some
> (predictable) pseudo-random numbers in the pool. Is this necessary?
>
> To just mix in some random input filling the whole pool (seeded again with
> pool[0] = 1) something as "simple" as
>
> f->pool[0] = rol32(input[0], f->pool[2] & 31) ^ f->pool[1];
> f->pool[1] = rol32(input[1], f->pool[3] & 31) ^ f->pool[2];
> f->pool[2] = rol32(input[2], f->pool[0] & 31) ^ f->pool[3];
> f->pool[3] = rol32(input[3], f->pool[1] & 31) ^ f->pool[0];
>
> would suffice, although I didn't do any statistical tests.

The structure of the mixing functions in /dev/random has been well
studied, and validatetd in a number of different academic papers. So
I prefer to stick with the basic architecture, even as it is scaled
down for speed reasons and beause the pool is smaller.

One of the important things about the mixing function is that if the
attacker knows the input values (of which the simplest example for
analytic purposes is if the input values are all zero), we want there
to be ample mixing across the pool.

If you look at your proposed mixing function, in the case where the
input values are all zero, it devolves into:

f->pool[0] = f->pool[1];
f->pool[1] = f->pool[2];
f->pool[2] = f->pool[3];
f->pool[3] = f->pool[0];

Yes, I know the input values will never be all zero, but in the case
where the attacker knows what the input values are[1], but does not know
the contents of the entropy pool, a very simplistic mixing function
becomes relatively easy to analyze in the case where attacker knows
the inputs and then outputs, and is trying to determine the internal
state of the random driver.

Measuring the speed of the fast_mix function which I put together,
it's already been speeded up compard to the original fast_mix function
by a factor of six. On my x86 laptop, I can run 10 million
iterations in 0.14 seconds, so that translates to 14ns per fast_mix
call. (The original fast_mix function runs in 84 nanoseconds.)

So there is a cost-benefit tradeoff that we need to balance here. If
you have a system with 100k interrupts per second, performance is
going to be poor no matter what, and it's not clear how common such
systems really are. Most modern hardware do have some kind of NAPI or
other interrupt mitigation in place --- heck, even back in 1980's
people had figured out how to improve the 8250 UART with the 16550A
UART, which introdued a FIFO to decrease the interrupt load caused by
serial ports, and things have only gotten better since then.

Out of curiosity, on your profiles, how many nanonseconds total is the
total interrupt code path chewing up per interrupt?

Regards,

- Ted

[1] And on systems where we don't have get_cycles() or
random_get_entropy(), it becomes much easier for the attacker to guess
what at least half of the input values will be!
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