Identities and Root Keys

Version: 0.1

Contributors: Miguel Osorio, Timothy Chen


This document describes the composition of the Silicon Creator and Silicon Owner cryptographic identities and the Silicon Owner root key derivation scheme. This scheme is based on a symmetric key manager with support for software binding and key versioning.

This document also defines a non-cryptographic Device Identifier to facilitate silicon tracking during manufacturing flows. The Device Identifier is also mixed into the Creator Identity.



Boot stages:

  • ROM: Metal mask ROM, sometimes known as Boot ROM.
  • ROM_EXT: ROM Extension. Stored in flash and signed by the Silicon Creator1.
  • BL0: Bootloader. Signed by the Silicon Owner.
  • Kernel: Signed by the Silicon Owner.

Key manager operations:

  • KM_DERIVE: Key manager one-way function used to derive a new symmetric key.

Memory state operations:

  • CLEAR_BEFORE_NEXT_BOOT_STAGE: Clear key material before moving to the next boot stage.
  • CLEAR_AFTER_USE: Clear immediately after use.

Device Identifier

The device identifier is a globally unique 256b value provisioned on each device’s OTP memory in early manufacturing stages (e.g. wafer test). It is used to facilitate device tracking during manufacturing and provisioning. This value is also used as a component in the generation of the device’s Silicon Creator Identity, a cryptographically unique identity.

The 256b value is split into two halves. The first contains hardware origin information following a global standard format, while the second one is defined by the device SKU provisioning requirements.

128b Hardware origin information

No. Bits Description
16 Silicon Creator identifier. Assigned by the OpenTitan project.
16 Product identifier. Assigned by the Silicon Creator. Used to identify a class of devices.
64 Individual device identification number. Assigned by the Silicon Creator. For example, the wafer lot number and die's X,Y coordinates may be encoded here to simplify manufacturing tracking. Another option is to use a non cryptographic hash function with collision checks to guarantee global uniqueness.
32 CRC-32 IEEE 802.3. covering the previous bytes.

128b SKU specific device information

The device provisioner information varies for each provisioning use case. Each use case must have a specification defining the allocation of these bits. See the UICC EID Specification as an example.

Creator Root Key (CreatorRootKey)

The following sequence describes the creation of the CreatorRootKey. All inputs into the key manager can be locked down during mask ROM execution.

The size of the inputs is dependent on the security strength and masking configuration of the implementation. Depending on the KM_DERIVE intrinsic function, one of the following two mixing operations is acceptable:


Key0 = KM_DERIVE(RootKey, DiversificationKey)
Key1 = KM_DERIVE(Key0, HealthStateMeasurement)
Key2 = KM_DERIVE(Key1, DeviceIdentifier)
Key3 = KM_DERIVE(Key2, ROMExtSecurityDescriptor)

CreatorRootKey = KM_DERIVE(Key3, HardwareRevisionSecret)


The concatenation function must be injective. This can be achieved by fixing the width of all the operands.

CreatorRootKey = KM_DERIVE(RootKey,
    DiversificationKey | HealthStateMeasurement | DeviceIdentifier |
    ROMExtSecurityDescriptor | HardwareRevisionSecret)

Name Encoding Description
RootKey OTP Device root key. Provisioned at manufacturing time by the Silicon Creator.

Hidden from software once personalization is complete.

DiversificationKey Flash Additional diversification key stored in flash. Provisioned at manufacturing time by the Silicon Creator.

Hidden from software once provisioned.

ROMExtSecurityDescriptor SW register The implementation may choose one of the following options:
  1. Hash of the ROM extension. Changes in the ROM extension code will trigger an update of the Creator Identity.
  2. Use a software binding tag stored in the ROM_EXT manifest. This is to retain the Creator Identity across validated updates of the ROM_EXT. The implementation may opt to use the software binding interface described in later sections to fulfill this property.
DeviceIdentifier OTP Provisioned at manufacturing time. Readable from software and JTAG interface.
HardwareRevisionSecret Gates Encoded in gates. Provisioned by Silicon Creator before tapeout. Hidden from software.
Health State Measurement Register (ROM stage) Comprises the following measurements:
  • Device life cycle state.
  • Debug mode state.
  • ROM Hash.

Some values are read from the device life cycle controller. The device life cycle state should be consumed by the ROM stage.

The debug mode shall be used as well if there are multiple debug configurations supported by a single life cycle state.

The CreatorRootKey can be used to generate the Creator Identity key and the OwnerIntermediateKey described in the following sections.

Creator Identity

The Creator Identity is an asymmetric key derived from the CreatorRootKey. It is used as a cryptographic identifier bound to the device and the Silicon Creator. It is used to attest to the authenticity of the physical device and the ROM and ROM_EXT configuration.

The Creator Identity is generated as follows:

CreatorIdentitySeed =
  KM_DERIVE(CreatorRootKey, IdentityDiversificationConstant)

// ASYM_KDF is a KDF function compliant to the Asymmetric Key
// requirements defined in the Attestation specification document.
CreatorIdentity_Private = ASYM_KDF(CreatorIdentitySeed)
CLEAR_BEFORE_NEXT_BOOT_STAGE(CreatorIdentitySeed, CreatorIdentity_Private)

Name Encoding Description
IdentityDiversificationConstant Gates A constant defined in gates. Used to derive the CreatorIdentitySeed from the CreatorRootKey.

Hidden from software.

CreatorIdentitySeed SW Register Output Seed used to generate the CreatorIdentity asymmetric key.

The CreatorIdentitySeed and the private portion of the Creator Identity shall be cleared before the ROM Extension hands over execution to the Silicon Owner first boot stage.


The OwnerIntermediateKey is used as a root component of the Silicon Owner key hierarchy. It is used to establish a cryptographic link to the root secrets provisioned at manufacturing time.


The OwnerIntermediateKey shall be kept hidden from software to mitigate owner impersonation attacks.

The OwnerIntermediateKey is generated as follows:

OwnerIntermediateKey =
   KM_DERIVE(CreatorRootKey, OwnerRootSecret | SoftwareBindingValue)
Name Encoding Description
OwnerRootSecret Flash Used as a diversification constant with acceptable entropy. Provisioned at Ownership Transfer time by the Silicon Creator.

The OwnerRootSecret has different visibility options depending on the level of isolation provided in hardware:

  • The value should be hidden from software after provisioning.
  • The value is visible to ROM and ROM Extension, but hidden from all Silicon Owner software. The ROM Extension implements this property.
SoftwareBindingValue SW Register
Lockable Input
Software binding value configured during secure boot. See Software Binding for more details.

Owner Identity

The Owner Identity is used as a cryptographic identifier bound to the device and the Silicon Owner. It is used in Attestation flows. The Owner Identity is not expected to change during the lifetime of the device ownership assignment.

OwnerIdentitySeed =
  KM_DERIVE(OwnerIntermediateKey, OwnerRootIdentityKey)

// ASYM_KDF is a KDF function compliant to the Asymmetric Key
// requirements defined in the Attestation specification document.
OwnerIdentity_Private = ASYM_KDF(OwnerIdentitySeed)
CLEAR_BEFORE_NEXT_BOOT_STAGE(OwnerRootSeed, OwnerIdentity_Private)

Name Encoding Description
Owner Root Identity Key Gates The OwnerRootIdentityKey is a diversification constant with acceptable entropy provisioned in gates.

Visibility: Hidden from software.

Owner Identity Seed SW Register Output Seed used to generate the OwnerIdentity asymmetric key.

The OwnerIdentitySeed and the private portion of the Owner Identity shall be cleared before the bootloader (BL0) hands over execution to the kernel.

Owner Root Key and Versioned Keys

The key manager supports the generation of versioned keys with lineage to the OwnerRootKey for software consumption and sideload operations.

OwnerRootKey =
   KM_DERIVE(OwnerIntermediateKey, SoftwareBindingValue)

Key0 = KM_DERIVE(OwnerRootKey, KeyVersion)
Key1 = KM_DERIVE(Key0, KeyID)
Key2 = KM_DERIVE(Key1, Salt)
VersionedKey = KM_DERIVE(Key2, SoftwareExportConstant)


If the implementation allows it, the generation of the version key can be collapsed as follows:

OwnerRootKey =
   KM_DERIVE(OwnerIntermediateKey, SoftwareBindingValue)

VersionedKey = KM_DERIVE(OwnerRootKey,
    KeyVersion | KeyID | Salt | SoftwareExportConstant)

The concatenation function must be injective. This can be achieved by fixing the width of all the operands.

Name Encoding Description
OwnerRootKey Internal RAM Owner Root Key bound to the software stack.

Visibility: Hidden from software.

SoftwareBindingValue SW Register
Lockable Input
Software binding value configured during secure boot. See Software Binding for more details.
KeyVersion SW Register Input Key version. The value provided by software may be mixed with a gate constant before key derivation steps.

The value should also pass the version comparison criteria configured during secure boot. See Key Versioning for more details.

KeyID SW Register Input Key identifier. Used to derive a VersionedKey from VersionedRootKey. Processing of this field should provide countermeasures against key recovery attacks.
SoftwareExportConstant Gates The SoftwareExportConstant is a diversification constant with acceptable entropy provisioned in gates. It is used to mitigate key recovery attacks on software inputs.

Visibility: Hidden from software.

Salt SW Register Input Salt input controlled by software.
VersionedKey SW Register Output Output key derived from VersionedRootKey and KeyID. Support for sideloading may require additional support in the key manager, otherwise the software will be in charge of enforcing isolation.

Software Binding

Software binding is used to ensure that the key derivation scheme is only reproducible for a trusted software configuration. This is achieved by having the secure boot implementation configure runtime-irrevocable binding tags in the key derivation scheme. Such tags are usually delivered inside the signed manifest of each code partition.

OpenTitan shall support software binding for at least two Silicon Owner code stages (e.g. bootloader and kernel). It is expected that the kernel will implement binding with the application layer exclusively in software.

Each key manager binding stage shall provide at least 128b of data.

Key Versioning

Key versioning is the mechanism by which software implements key rotation triggered by security updates. Since there may be more than one updatable code partition in the system, the key versioning scheme has to implement at least 8 32b version comparators with lockable controls, which will be configured as part of the secure boot process.


The next figure shows an example on how to configure the maximum key version constraints in the key manager. The ROM_EXT software verifies the BL0 manifest, and configures one of the maximum key version registers with the maximum allowable version stored in the BL0 manifest. In the same way, the BL0 software verifies the Kernel manifest and configures a separate key version register. The software implementation is free to allocate more than one maximum key version register per boot stage.

Figure: Maximum allowable versions configured as part of the secure boot

Note: The diagram is overly simplified and does not take into account security hardening.

Key Consumption

Secrets wrapped with versioned keys shall have additional metadata including Key Version, Key ID and salt information.

The versioned key generation is gated on the version comparison check enforced by the key manager implementation. The following set of operations will only succeed if the key version set by software is valid.

Figure: Key version is set during key configuration

Note: The diagram is overly simplified and does not take into account security hardening.

Recommendations for Programming Model Abstraction

High Level Key Manager States

The hardware may opt to implement a software interface with higher level one-way step functions to advance the internal state of the key manager. The following are the minimum set of steps required:

1 CreatorRootKey 2 OwnerIntermediateKey 3 OwnerRootKey

Figure: Minimum set of high level one-way step functions.

Instantiations of the key manager can be conditioned to start at the current internal state of the key manager, for example, kernel-level instantiations may always start at the OwnerRootKey level, assuming the previous boot stages advanced the state of the key manager.

The following code block presents a simplified version of an API implemented on hardware with support for high level step functions.

typedef enum kmgr_state {
  kKMgrUninitialized = 0,
} kmgr_state_t;

 * Initialise an instance of the Key Manager
 * @param base_addr Base address of an instance of the Key Manager
 * @param kmgr Key Manager state data.
 * @return true if the function was successful, false otherwise
bool keymgr_init(mmio_region_t base_addr, kmgr_t* kmgr);

 * Advance Key Manager state
 * Advances internal state of Key Manager. All state transitions
 * persist until the next system reset.
 * The hardware supports the following transitions:
 * Uninitialized --> CreatorRootKey -->
 * OwnerIntermediateKey --> OwnerRootKey
 * Defensive measures may trigger a state transition to Disabled.
 * @param kmgr Key Manager state data.
 * @return true if the function was successful, false otherwise.
bool keymgr_advance_state(const kmgr_t* kmgr);

 * @return Current Key Manager state associated with |kmgr|
 * instance
kmgr_state_t keymgr_get_state(const kmgr_t* kmgr);

Versioned Keys

The following high level software interface may be supported by hardware to generate versioned keys. The hardware may opt to implement versioned key functionality at each of the high level key manager states.

 * Generate versioned key for a given |key_id|.
 * Generates a versioned key rooted in the current state of the
 * key manager. Requires the key manager to be in one of the
 * following states:
 *    CreatorRootKey, OwnerIntermediateKey, OwnerRootKey
 * @param kmgr Key Manager state data.
 * @param key_version Key version. Each version 32b word shall
 *  be less than its associated max version value. Requires the
 *  maximum version registers to be configured before calling this
 *  function
 * @param key_id Key identifier.
 * @param versioned_key Key output.
 * @return true if the function was successful, false otherwise.
bool keymgr_generate_vk(const kmgr_t *kmgr,
                        const uint32_t key_version[8],
                        const uint32_t key_id[8]
                        uint32_t *versioned_key[8]);

Alternatives Considered

Collapse Creator and Owner Identities

The Silicon Creator and Silicon Owner identities may be collapsed, leaving the Silicon Creator identity as the sole identity supported by the platform. This would require the Ownership Transfer flow to support a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) command to be able to endorse the identity by the owner PKI.

The current approach enforces a separate OwnerRootSecret provisioned at Ownership Transfer time to provide isolation between device owners.

Support Identities Outside of the Key Manager

The identities can be generated outside the key manager and be completely managed by software. The key manager in this case can be used to generate storage wrapping keys for the identity seeds.


The current design includes support for identity states which forces the mixing of class level constants (i.e. IdentityDiversificationConstant, OwnerRootIdentityKey) for each identity seed. This ensures lineage to the RootKey and the Device Identifier. Additional provisioning requirements would have to be considered if the Identity Seeds are not derived from the Root Key.

Alternatives Considered for Software Binding

The hardware may be required to support more than 256b of software binding data. Additional bits may be added in 256b increments to support more complex software binding schemes.


KM_DERIVE function and security strength claims

Key Manager derive functions should support at least 256b of security strength.

Note on standards: The key derivation function (KM_DERIVE), when instantiated with a Pseudorandom Function (PRF), shall be compatible with NIST SP 800-133r22 section 6.3: Symmetric Keys Produced by Combining (Multiple) Keys and Other Data. This imposes provisioning requirements for the root keys, which are covered in the Provisioning specification.

Security strength for the KM_DERIVE function based on a Pseudorandom Function (PRF)3:

PRF Security Strength Notes
CMAC-AES-256 128 Security strength limited to AES block size.

SCA countermeasures for AES are more widely available in literature.

HMAC-SHA2-256 256 There are no plans for hardening the OpenTitan HMAC hardware implementation due to complexity.

No planned support for HMAC-SHA3.

KMAC256 256 Security hardening is under consideration for the OpenTitan KMAC hardware implementation.

Need to verify with a lab that the claim for 800-133r2 section 6.3 compliance holds.

Certification using a KMAC construction is challenged by the following issues.

Common Criteria:

  1. Even though SHA-3 is an approved SOG-IS algorithm, KMAC is not4.

FIPS - NIST specs:

  1. NIST 800-56Cr1 lists KMAC as an approved one-step KDF, although the spec is focused on key establishment applications; but,
  2. NIST 800-108, which focuses on PRF key derivation functions, does not list KMAC as a primitive. Note however that the document is pretty old.

Security strength for the KM_DERIVE function based on a Deterministic RNG (DRNG):

PRF Security Strength Notes
CTR-DRBG 256 Additional requirements:
  1. Factory time provisioned entropy (seed).
  2. Hash function required to compress additional data into DRBG (additional_data or perso_string).
  3. Global counter to keep track of key derivations (requires device lifetime key manager keygen counter, which can be implemented in software? This can be very difficult since the key derivation paths change per ownership transfer).

Compliant to NIST 800-133r2 section 4 (Need to verify claim with a lab).

Key recovery attacks on user inputs

The hardware shall support countermeasures against key recovery attacks for all software controlled inputs.

Version comparison registers

The hardware shall support at least 8 32b write-lockable version comparison registers to provide key versioning functionality.

Software-Hardware binding registers

The hardware shall support at least 256b of software write-lockable registers to implement software-hardware key manager binding as part of the secure boot implementation.

Support for key IDs (key handles or salt value)

The hardware shall support versioned key derivations for software provided key IDs. A key ID is defined as a 256b value used as a key handle.

Root secrets isolation from software

The hardware shall isolate the RootKey and other provisioned secrets from software after completion of personalization at manufacturing time.

Isolation between boot stages

Later boot stages shall have no access to secrets maintained by previous boot stages.

Lockable inputs

The software shall configure runtime lockable inputs as part of the secure boot implementation to fix the construction of identities and root keys in the key manager.

Integrity and confidentiality of secret values

Hardware secrets stored in OTP and flash shall be scrambled to increase the difficulty of physical attacks.

Silicon Creator identity invalidation (optional)

ROM Extension updates may invalidate the Silicon Owner and Silicon Creator identities as well as the root keys.

Fallback support

The implementation should consider a software based backup mechanism to mitigate security and/or certification issues with the main implementation. The backup mechanism shall not rely on secrets from the main implementation.


  1. The Silicon Creator is the logical entity, or logical collection of entities that manufactures, packages, tests and provisions the chip with its first identity. ↩︎

  2. Recommendation for Cryptographic Key Generation (NIST SP 800-133r2). ↩︎

  3. Security strengths for PRF functions as documented in: Recommendation for Key-Derivation Methods in Key-Establishment Schemes (NIST 800-56Cr1) ↩︎

  4. SOG-IS Crypto Working Group SOG-IS Crypto Evaluation Scheme Agreed Cryptographic Mechanisms ↩︎