From Silicon to Compiler: Reverse-Engineering the CoolRunner-II Bitstream Format

Presented at REcon 2015, June 21, 2015, 1 p.m. (60 minutes)

Programmable logic devices have historically been locked up behind proprietary vendor toolchains and undocumented firmware formats, preventing the creation of a third-party compiler or decompiler. While the vendor typically prohibits reverse engineering of their software in the license agreement, no such ban applies to the silicon. Given the choice between REing gigabytes of spaghetti code and looking at clean, regular die layout, the choice is clear.

This talk describes my reverse engineering of the Xilinx XC2C32A, a 180nm 32-macrocell CPLD, at the silicon level and my progress toward a fully open-source toolchain (compiler, decompiler, and floorplanner) for the device. A live demonstration of firmware generated by my tools running on actual hardware is included.



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