SRI International awarded $11.5 million DARPA contract to accelerate fully homomorphic encryption


A practical fully homomorphic encryption capability could secure data being processed on, and sent to, untrusted clouds, and especially the volumes of data required to train AI and ML models

MENLO PARK, Calif, March 8, 2021 – SRI International today announced that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has awarded the research institute an $11.5 million contract to develop a new hardware accelerator chip to support fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). The resulting hardware and supporting software solution could enable practical FHE, which has broad commercial implications, such as accelerating the computations required to process large volumes of sensitive data for machine learning and to train artificial intelligence and enhancing security for data hosted in untrusted cloud computing platforms.

With most data encryption strategies, data has to be decrypted before processing, which presents security and privacy concerns. FHE enables computations to be performed on encrypted data rather than rather than clear plaintext, but FHE-based computations involve “noise” that accumulates with each computation, that may ultimately render the encrypted result of the computations undecryptable. Solving the problem will require a new type of accelerator CPU architecture and supporting software to speed up processing time which will reduce overhead and control the noise. The DARPA contract is part of a larger initiative named DPRIVE, Data Protection in Virtual Environments, with the stated goal of developing a
chip to accelerate FHE.

SRI has assembled a world-class team of researchers and engineers for this initiative. “Creating a new hardware accelerator for FHE encrypted data is a unique technical challenge that requires expertise in co-processor architectures, hardware design, computer-aided verification of hardware, software, mathematics and FHE algorithms,” said Dr. Karim Eldefrawy, Principal Computer Scientist for the Computer Science Lab (CSL) at SRI International. “With the team of word-class researchers we have assembled for this project, we are confident that in a few years we can develop a viable hardware solution that will make FHE data processing practical and commercially viable for a large set of applications.”


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SRI International

SRI International creates world-changing solutions making people safer, healthier and more productive. SRI, a research center headquartered in Menlo Park, California, works primarily in advanced technology and systems, biosciences, computing and education. SRI brings its innovations to the marketplace through technology licensing, spin-off ventures and new product solutions.

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