AN 556: Using the Design Security Features in Intel FPGAs

ID 683269
Date 5/21/2021
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Step 2a: Programming Volatile Key into the FPGAs

Before programming the volatile key into the FPGAs, ensure that you can successfully configure the FPGA with an unencrypted configuration file. The volatile key is a reprogrammable and erasable key. Before you program the FPGAs with the volatile key, you must provide an external battery to retain the volatile key. FPGAs with the volatile key successfully programmed can accept both encrypted and unencrypted configuration bitstreams. This enables the use of unencrypted configuration bitstreams for board-level testing.

Any attempt to configure the FPGAs containing the volatile key with a configuration file encrypted with the wrong key causes the configuration to fail. If this occurs, the nSTATUS signal from the FPGA pulses low and continues to reset itself if you enable the Auto-restart configuration after error option in the Intel® Quartus® Prime software.

You can program the key into the FPGAs with on-board prototyping listed in Key Programming.