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Rationale: I need to figure out ways to protect Intellectual Property contained in NVIDIA CUDA/GPU code.

That said, I'm surprised that there are literally zero GPU code obfuscators.

On stack overflow, I found a single question: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/39311606/does-any-graphics-api-implement-shader-obfuscation

Is there something specific about GPU's that makes obfuscation difficult? I can find loads of solutions for C#/C/java....

[I'm interested in obfuscating SASSM code, not PTX code in case that impacts these answers]

closed as primarily opinion-based by Xander, forest, Teun Vink, Tobi Nary, kasperd Jan 13 at 21:48

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    GPU code is often significantly simpler, which makes RE far easier. – forest Jan 9 at 3:17
  • Some obfuscation methods have a negative performance impact of some sort, which might be unacceptable in GPU applications. Probably isn't the only reason, but could be that there have been attempts but they had a too great performance impact, so were abandoned. – Matthew Jan 9 at 15:11
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It is simply extremly rare to need that, so noone made any solutions for it. GPU code is rare on its own and when it exists, it usually does tasks where there is no networking or security, just some expensive computations.

  • I'd assumed with the gaming industry driving so much innovation in the GPU space, and with it's deep pockets, there'd be GPU obfuscation available for "critical" algorithms in their code? That's the only counter example I can think of to your well reasoned post. – John Jan 8 at 20:11
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    @John I am not a game developer so take this as not too well informed opinion, but when I made a simple game for a class in OpenGL, the only GPU code in there were shaders. The rest is simply handled by graphics drivers. And the shaders were very small fractions of the code, maybe 100 lines total. Furthermore, these are likely simillar in each game, there is not that much creative stuff to do there (there is some, just not much). – Peter Harmann Jan 9 at 6:52
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http://xavierbellekens.com/publications/SIN16.pdf

I've linked a paper on the subject of protecting IP in CUDA codebases.

Per this paper: "we recommend that developers do not distribute platform-independent binaries and instead distribute a set of GPU-architecture specific binaries with the PTX section stripped"

  • I'm familiar with this paper. This is why we distribute SASSM, and not PTX. I'm interested in increasing the level of difficulty in reverse engineering, and obfuscation seems an obvious first step. – John Jan 8 at 20:09
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    @John I haven't written CUDA code in a couple years so I'm no authority but I've heard of no tools for obfuscation. This isn't surprising as this is a niche area...if you really need it you may get the fun of making your own script to do it :) – DarkMatter Jan 8 at 20:16

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