How to (Pre-)Compute a Ladder: Improving the Performance of X25519 and X448

Abstract

In the RFC 7748 memorandum, the Internet Research Task Force specified a Montgomery-ladder scalar multiplication function based on two recently adopted elliptic curves, Curve25519 and Curve448. The purpose of this function is to support the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm that will be included in the forthcoming version of the Transport Layer Security cryptographic protocol. In this paper, we describe a ladder variant that permits to accelerate the fixed-point multiplication function inherent to the Diffie-Hellman key pair generation phase. Our proposal combines a right-to-left version of the Montgomery ladder along with the pre-computation of constant values directly derived from the base-point and its multiples. To our knowledge, this is the first proposal of a Montgomery ladder procedure for prime elliptic curves that admits the extensive use of pre-computation. In exchange of very modest memory resources and a small extra programming effort, the proposed ladder obtains significant speedups for software implementations. Moreover, our proposal fully complies with the RFC 7748 specification. A software implementation of the X25519 and X448 functions using our pre-computable ladder yields an acceleration factor of roughly 1.20, and 1.25 when implemented on the Haswell and the Skylake micro-architectures, respectively.

Publication
Selected Areas in Cryptography - SAC 2017