CW1200 - Crowbar glitch delay

Hello guys, I’m attempting to voltage glitch an STM8L target on a custom UFO308 board.

I’m supplying power and a 16MHz clock to the target from the CW, the target is using a 8x divider and running at 2MHz. I’m using a GPIO pin from the board to trigger the injection of a voltage glitch.
However I’m running into an issue, the glitch is delayed by about ~340ns from the trigger. I have no idea why this is happening, shouldn’t the injection delay with offset=1 and ext_offset=0 be in the order of a few nanoseconds?

Here’s the trigger waveform:

And here are the settings used to generate the glitch:

cw1200 Device
sn         = 44203120503043393030342035313033
fw_version = 
    major = 1
    minor = 30
    debug = 0
gain = 
    mode = high
    gain = 32
    db   = 26.125
adc = 
    state          = False
    basic_mode     = high
    timeout        = 0.1
    offset         = 0
    presamples     = 0
    samples        = 1000
    decimate       = 1
    trig_count     = 3653
    fifo_fill_mode = normal
    stream_mode    = False
clock = 
    adc_src       = clkgen_x1
    adc_phase     = 0
    adc_freq      = 15999996
    adc_rate      = 15999996.0
    adc_locked    = True
    freq_ctr      = 16000007
    freq_ctr_src  = clkgen
    clkgen_src    = system
    extclk_freq   = 10000000
    clkgen_mul    = 2
    clkgen_div    = 12
    clkgen_freq   = 16000000.0
    clkgen_locked = True
trigger = 
    triggers = tio1
    module   = basic
    aux_out  = True
io = 
    tio1         = high_z
    tio2         = high_z
    tio3         = high_z
    tio4         = gpio_low
    pdid         = high_z
    pdic         = high_z
    nrst         = high_z
    glitch_hp    = False
    glitch_lp    = True
    extclk_src   = hs1
    hs2          = clkgen
    target_pwr   = True
    tio_states   = (0, 0, 0, 0)
    cdc_settings = array('B', [0, 0])
glitch = 
    clk_src     = clkgen
    width       = 26.171875
    width_fine  = 0
    offset      = 1.171875
    offset_fine = 0
    trigger_src = ext_single
    arm_timing  = before_scope
    ext_offset  = 0
    repeat      = 2
    output      = glitch_only
SAD = 
    threshold = 0
    reference = [0]
decode_IO = 
    trigger_pattern = None
    rx_baud         = 38360.23667279412
    decode_type     = USART

There is some delay due to the glitch logic - it’s a number of cycles of the “glitch clock”. So at 16 MHz clkgen (which becomes the glitch clock) you have 62.5 nS cycle = ~5-6 cycle delay from your measurement (which I think jives with trigger logic design).

The quick solution is to run clkgen faster. Note that the glitch logic can run faster than the ADC (which is limited to ~100mhz). So an easy solution with some external hardware is:

  • Plug a 16 MHz XTAL into the UFO baseboard.

  • You can route this signal to both the target device & to the CLKIN pin (HS1).

  • Configure clkgen to use extclock & set to a higher frequency:

    scope.clock.clkgen_src = “extclk”
    scope.clock.extclk_freq = 16E6
    scope.clock.clkgen_freq = 128E6
    scope.glitch.resetDcms() #Old function API, but useful when you change freq like this

Note setting extclk_freq just allows it to auto-calculate the correct mul/div for clkgen when not using the internal timebase.

The normal ChipWhisperer builds don’t have dividers in the frequency output, so you can’t output a lower frequency than CLKGEN. This means if you’ve already got a 16 Mhz xtal the above should work great.

Watch out for the glitch.width now though - it might be too narrow to actually generate an output. The solution may be to use either a higher repeat number, or to switch to enable_only output glitch mode.


Thanks for the suggestions Colin, I’ll try them out. It’s understandable that there would be a delay I thought it might’ve been normal at first but I just assumed since internally the ChipWhisperer is using an FPGA that the triggering would be synchronous or almost. Shows how little I know…
I was initially driving the target with it’s internal clock and using a much higher clkgen frequency. I tried to supply the target’s clock with the hope of getting more repeatable timing, I guess I’ll return to that approach.

Speaking of which, I’m having trouble having the target produce any successful faults at all, even with over 300 000 various attempts using different offsets and glitch widths.

I’m getting to the point where the target stays functional around 60% of the time and the rest crashes without triggering it’s internal reset mechanisms. I determined the type of reset by examining it’s output voltage, which would steadily drop over a relatively long period of time, unlike a reset from a glitch that’s too strong which just shuts down the target immediately. Do you believe my intuition of these two different ‘types’ of resets is correct?

I feel I’m a bit lost as I’ve made virtually zero progress. Do you think I’m on the right track? Do you have any other advice?

Thanks a ton for your support, it’s really appreciated.

Not sure on the exact target - but our standard process (even when targetting bootloader etc) is to start with the double-loop code:

int cnt = 0;
volatile int k = 0;
for(volatile int i = 0; i < 1000; i++){
  for(volatile int j=0; j < 1000; j++){
 printf("%d %d %d %d\n", i, j, k, cnt++);

You can adjust that as needed for targets - in particular the value of 1000 is just something so it spits out a result every ~0.5 to 1 seconds. For older devices you might hack in some more basic print code.

The while(1) loop doesn’t require a nice trigger, and just “mess around” until we see something. Where messing around involves:

  • Changing pulse widths.
  • Changing cables (SMA cables can affect this a lot - if you dont’ have different lengths even try just jumper wires).
  • Changing the power supply setting - this is easy on the UFO board since you can use the variable VCC option. Sometimes lower voltages are more helpful.
  • Switching between ‘HP’ glitch and ‘LP’ glitch (they have slightly different characteristics - for the most part one doesn’t end up being ‘better’ than the other).
  • Changing the clock frequency - often running the device as fast as possible can be helpful too, since the timing slack is much lower now.

Normally if you’re seeing occasional resets it’s a good starting point! But this removes the offset problem from the code.

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Thanks for the tips, I tried implementing the double loop. I have a few doubts about the process:

  • Do you try a single glitch per loop or multiple ones generally?
  • In your experience, on average with glitch parameters that might result in success, how often will the target reset itself? 10%, 30%, 90% of the time? Just a ballpark figure of course. I understand this can be highly variable
  • With correct parameters how often will you see the loop skip? Is it still a 0.1% chance or more like 10%?
  • In the ufo boards you have design there is generally at least a 100nf bypass cap, I replicated this design, is this component helpful for voltage glitching or should I remove it?
  • Does the value of the shunt resistor impact the voltage glitching at all?

Thanks again man, your tools and advice are making this process much easier for me. I’d be totally lost otherwise.