A Codebreaker for DES and other Ciphers

COPACOBANA, the Cost-Optimized Parallel COde Breaker, is an FPGA-based machine which is optimized for running cryptanalytical algorithms. COPACOBANA is suitable for parallel computation problems which have low communication requirements. DES cracking is such a parallelizable problem: an exhaustive key search of the Data Encryption Standard (DES) takes no longer than a week on average with COPACOBANA. Other ciphers can be attacked too, and COPACOBANA can also be used for parallel computing problem outside cryptography.
You'll find much more information about COPACOBANA on the faq page of this site.
(And yes, we know, Rio de Janeiro's famous beach is spelled slightly differently, Copacabana ;)


May 01, 2008: New COPACOBANA version based on Virtex-4 SX 35 FPGAs

A new release of COPACOBANA is available now being equipped with 128 Virtex-4 SX 35 FPGAs. This version will provide even more logic resources as well as a total of 24,576 DSP blocks within the FPGAs for accelerating arithmetic-intensive applications.

March 15, 2007: Duration of brute-force attack against DES is less than a week

With further optimization of our implementation, we could achieve a clock frequency of 136MHz for the brute fore attack with COPACOBANA. Now, the average search time for a single DES key is less than a week, precisely 6.4 days. The worst case for the search has been reduced to 12.8 days now.

February 13, 2007: Improved code reduces brute-force attack against DES to 7 days

Our new DES design can now be clocked at 120MHz. This reduces the average search time of the DES key space to 7.2 days. The worst case for a brute-force attack is now 14.4 days.

December 12, 2006: Getting started guide added

The Getting Started guide briefly explains parts of the hardware, shows how to use COPACOBANA and how to build custom applications.

December 4-8, 2006: Presentation of the COPACOBANA platform at UCLA

The COPACOBANA cluster was presented at the Workshop "Special Purpose Hardware for Cryptography: Attacks and Applications" at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM).
For the slides of the talk, see IPAM2006_slides.pdf.

November 29, 2006: Beta version of COPACOBANA released

The new beta version of COPACOBANA features a new backplane and a now housing.
For most recent pictures see gallery page.

October 31, 2006: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) added

For frequently asked questions see FAQ page.

October 10-13, 2006: Presentation of COPACOBANA at CHES 2006 (live demo)

The design and mode of operation of COPACOBANA will be presented at the IACR Workshop on "Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems (CHES 2006)" in Yokohama, Japan.
A live challenge will be solved during workshop time. The current progress of the COPACOBANA machine will be available online at the COPACOBANA progress page.

For more information on the workshop and program, see The detailed paper can be found on the documents page.

September 25, 2006: COPACOBANA pictures online

Pictures of the COPACOBANA prototype are now online and can be found on the gallery page.

September 18-20, 2006: New results on the security of ECC against attacks based on special-purpose hardware at ECC 2006

Elliptic Curve Cryptosystems (ECC) play an important role in current cryptographic applications. Our recent analysis shows that, even in the presence of special-purpose hardware such as COPACOBANA, ECC is harder to break the previously believed. As a consequence, the recommended key sizes by NIST should be adopted. Based on recent results, e.g. ECCp-163 is at least three orders in magnitude harder to break than RSA-1024. The slides of the presentation on this year's ECC workshop in Toronto ( ECC website) can be found on the documents page.

September 14, 2006: COPACOBANA architecture described in iX magazine

The article 'Kryptoanalyse: Wie sicher ist Kryptographie?' which appeared in the iX magazine describes the architecture of COPACOBANA together with a picture of the COPACOBANA prototype. See the documents page for a PDF version of the article.

April 3-4, 2006: Demonstration of COPACOBANA at the SHARCS workshop

The COPACOBANA hardware will be demonstrated at the "2nd International Workshop on Special-Purpose Hardware for Cryptanalytic Applications --- SHARCS 2006" in Cologne, Germany (see

March 21, 2006: released goes online. The website is intented to provide information on the COPACOBANA device - A cost-optimiized hardware for cryptanalytical applications. Further information about the hardware and its applications in cryptanalysis can be found on the documents page.