TLS 1.3 Performance Part 3 – Pre-Shared Key (PSK)

TLS 1.3 has a different handshake flow when using pre-shared keys and this impacts performance. This is the third part of six blogs discussing the performance differences observed between TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.3 in wolfSSL and how to make the most of them in your applications. This blog discusses how and why PSK handshakes are only similar in speed generally but faster when using DH style key exchange.

For TLS 1.2, handshakes using PSK are defined in a separate document (RFC 4279). In order to fit in with the existing flow, a full handshake is performed. In TLS 1.3, PSK handshakes are the same as resumption handshakes. Therefore there is one less round-trip required for TLS 1.3.

This change in flow has a significant impact on the performance of TLS 1.3. The amount of hashing and encryption/decryption has increased but losing a round-trip means that using PSK without a DH style key exchange is only slightly slower. On higher latency networks, the difference is trivial and the savings great.

In TLS 1.3 using DH or ECDH with PSK results in the following handshake operations.

So, the secret is calculated on the server after the ServerHello is sent. This means that the processing of the ServerHello and secret calculation on the client is happening at the same time relative to the server calculating the secret. The parallel secret generation resulted in, with client and server running on the same computer, TLS 1.3 being about 25% faster than TLS 1.2 when using DH. Using ECDH with P-256, TLS 1.3 is about 15% faster.

It is clear that using pre-shared keys in a secure way, with DH style key exchange, is faster with TLS 1.3 in wolfSSL. The next blog will discuss use cases that result in the removal of a key generation from the list of expensive cryptographic operations in TLS 1.3.

Part 1 (TLS 1.3 Performance – Resumption)
Part 2 (TLS 1.3 Performance – Full Handshake)

For more information regarding wolfSSL performance or usage of PSK, please contact