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Reverse engineering an EDIF file?

 
 
Rastislav Struharik
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      11-10-2003
Hello,

I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
am I being paranoid?
Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.

Thanks in advance,
Rastislav Struharik
 
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Jim Lewis
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      11-10-2003
Sorry. An EDIF file should be pretty straight forward to
reverse engineer. I have had to edit one before. You could
make it difficult by obfusciating it. One method changes
all names to be sequences of letters O and l and numbers
0 and 1. This would not deter those that are determined
though. If there is money involved, people are determined.

You would be better off working with a good legal agreement
and people who you can trust to abide by it.

Cheers,
Jim
--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~
Jim Lewis
Director of Training (E-Mail Removed)
SynthWorks Design Inc. http://www.SynthWorks.com
1-503-590-4787

Expert VHDL Training for Hardware Design and Verification
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~

Rastislav Struharik wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
> engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
> I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
> have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
> for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
> the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
> a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
> obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
> am I being paranoid?
> Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.
>
> Thanks in advance,
> Rastislav Struharik



 
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Allan Herriman
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      11-10-2003
On Mon, 10 Nov 2003 23:10:39 +0100, Rastislav Struharik
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>Hello,
>
>I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
>engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
>I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
>have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
>for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
>the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
>a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
>obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
>am I being paranoid?
>Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.


I think you should distribute your design in a binary format, since
it's fairly easy to reverse engineer EDIF:

Use any text editor for editing.

Use Aldec or Riviera for simulating. (Both tools handle a combined
VHDL / Verilog / EDIF flow).

Use a recent version of Synplify to convert to (almost readable)
schematics.

Regards,
Allan.1
 
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rasti123@eunet.yu
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-11-2003
Dear Allan,

Thank you for your answer. When you say binary format, what precisely
do you mean? On the other hand I was thinking of using Xilinx NGC
netlist instead of EDIF. Do you think this would help? I have read
that NGC is a encrypted netlist format, and if there is no easy way of
converting NGC to EDIF, than maybe it would be a solution to my
problem.

Best regards,
Rastislav

On Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:45:47 +1100, Allan Herriman
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>On Mon, 10 Nov 2003 23:10:39 +0100, Rastislav Struharik
><(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>>Hello,
>>
>>I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
>>engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
>>I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
>>have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
>>for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
>>the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
>>a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
>>obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
>>am I being paranoid?
>>Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.

>
>I think you should distribute your design in a binary format, since
>it's fairly easy to reverse engineer EDIF:
>
>Use any text editor for editing.
>
>Use Aldec or Riviera for simulating. (Both tools handle a combined
>VHDL / Verilog / EDIF flow).
>
>Use a recent version of Synplify to convert to (almost readable)
>schematics.
>
>Regards,
>Allan.1


 
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B. Joshua Rosen
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-11-2003
On Mon, 10 Nov 2003 23:10:39 +0100, Rastislav Struharik wrote:

> Hello,
>
> I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
> engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
> I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
> have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
> for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
> the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
> a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
> obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
> am I being paranoid?
> Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.
>
> Thanks in advance,
> Rastislav Struharik


You can convert the edif file into Verilog of VHDL by running the Xilinx
programs edif2ngd followed by an ngd2ver or ngd2vhdl. What you get is gate
level so it's not easy to work with but it's at least minimally human
readable.


 
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Allan Herriman
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-11-2003
On Tue, 11 Nov 2003 18:10:33 +0100, http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) wrote:

>Dear Allan,
>
>Thank you for your answer. When you say binary format, what precisely
>do you mean? On the other hand I was thinking of using Xilinx NGC
>netlist instead of EDIF. Do you think this would help? I have read
>that NGC is a encrypted netlist format, and if there is no easy way of
>converting NGC to EDIF, than maybe it would be a solution to my
>problem.


NGC would be better than EDIF.

You will probably also have to ship something that will allow your
customers to simulate the core. This is typically done by shipping a
pre-compiled library (to suit whatever simulator your customers use)
with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).

Regards,
Allan.
 
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Frank Raffaeli
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-26-2003
>
> Rastislav Struharik wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> > I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
> > engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
> > I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
> > have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
> > for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
> > the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
> > a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
> > obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
> > am I being paranoid?
> > Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.
> >
> > Thanks in advance,
> > Rastislav Struharik


Jim Lewis <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<(E-Mail Removed)>...
> Sorry. An EDIF file should be pretty straight forward to
> reverse engineer. I have had to edit one before. You could
> make it difficult by obfusciating it. One method changes
> all names to be sequences of letters O and l and numbers
> 0 and 1. This would not deter those that are determined
> though. If there is money involved, people are determined.
>
> You would be better off working with a good legal agreement
> and people who you can trust to abide by it.
>
> Cheers,
> Jim


One of my assignments 10 years ago was to develop a routing engine for
Lattice Semi's ISP PLD's. It invoved parsing and EDIF file into logic
equations. Jim is right, it would be easy to reverse engineer.

The best advice I ever got about legal agreements was this:
"Get to know who you're dealing with. There is no document that can
make it worthwhile to deal with someone who is dishonorable."

If you can protect the design by making it difficult and expensive to
reverse engineer ... that may be time and money well spent. It also
gives you and your clients a better competitive advantage.

Frank Raffaeli
http://www.aomwireless.com/
 
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Muthu
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-27-2003
Hi,

I think you have got enough ideas for this issue.

I want to learn, how can i set time limit for a core. As you said, how
can i make my .edf to work fine for limited period of time?

Can you help me on this?

Regards,
Muthu

Rastislav Struharik <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<(E-Mail Removed)>. ..
> Hello,
>
> I would like to know does anyone knows, is it possible to reverse
> engineer an edif netlist file? I am currently developing an FPGA core.
> I would like to supply an evaluation version of the core, that would
> have all the functionality of the final core, but would operate only
> for a limited period of time. My fear is that there is a way to modify
> the evaluation version edif netlist (find and remove modules that set
> a time limit to the operation of the evaluation version), and thus
> obtain completely functional core. Can something like this be done, or
> am I being paranoid?
> Every help and clarification on this subject is most welcome.
>
> Thanks in advance,
> Rastislav Struharik

 
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Joonas Timo Taavetti Kekoni
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      01-02-2004
In comp.lang.vhdl Jim Lewis <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
: You would be better off working with a good legal agreement
: and people who you can trust to abide by it.

One does not really make an agreement over a deadline.
It is just sometimes easier to uncompile things, providing this
is possible. (If you are talking only about bying a licence,
this should be quick providing you can arrange the money quickly.)

I have been working over a project that the technical person
claims that the bug does not exists or it was fixed a long time ago,
(do not remember anymore which one ) despite we had showed wery clearly
that the big is there. (In reality the bug has been fixed on a subsequent,
but incompatible release of the program, which was not compatible
with out software at that time.)

We send the uncompiled file to that person, with exlanation what happens,
when why. ... The fix got into the next sevice release.

We were not major client, they would most likely been more
likely to lose us, that to give out sourcecode to debug a bug
"which is not there".



 
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