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Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2021 16:33:47 +0200
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: Supported FPGA board for John the Ripper in 2021


On Fri, Oct 22, 2021 at 10:38:21AM +0000, Duijvenbode,Pieter P.E. van wrote:
> Currently I am doing my bachelors on cyber security and found this article on using John the Ripper on a FPGA to crack bcrypt hashes more efficiently. Here's the specific article:
> The board used here was the ZTEX 1.15y. Now it happens that this board is pretty old and almost impossible to find for purchase nowadays.

Right.  Incidentally, I think the company behind that Medium article is
in the Netherlands.  Maybe they can lend or sell you a board that didn't
fit their cluster.  I doubt they acquired the exact multiple, and besides
among so many boards surely some were in some way special.  It won't
hurt to ask.

Also, if you're planning an actually innovative and/or useful project,
we can provide you with remote access to a machine with ZTEX boards.
For example, if you're willing and capable to implement the project I
outlined here:

In fact, you don't need the hardware to start with a project like this.
You'd only need the hardware when you have the first new bitstream to
test, at which point many in the community would be happy to help you.

> My question here is, what newer FPGA boards are supported by John the Ripper?

No newer boards are supported.

> Are there any recommended boards?

It's just ZTEX 1.15y or its compatible US clones.

> Or is this not supported at all?

We do continue to support the ZTEX 1.15y boards.

As to further development targeting newer boards, this would be an R&D
project requiring funding, and so far no one offered reasonable funding
and terms.  Some prospective sponsors did contact us, but they wanted
the functionality urgently and with a guarantee, whereas supporting
another board would be a lengthy project with uncertain outcome.  So it
was a no-go so far.

Alternatively, of course someone capable can volunteer to try and do it
on their own time.  Maybe you?

Also, "newer" doesn't imply "better" for this use.  For example, the
ZTEX 2.x boards are not (see a comment in the GitHub issue above for why
not).  Currently only the far more expensive newer boards (with prices
in thousands of dollars per board) are reasonably within consideration.
Also within consideration are FPGA boards available in the cloud - they
are indeed expensive to purchase, but a little compute time on them for
research purposes is more affordable.

Curiously, the current spike in GPU prices made expensive FPGA boards
appear much more reasonable.


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