Benchmarking OpenPGP operations with GnuPG [was: Re: how slow are 4Kbit RSA keys?]

Grant Olson kgo at
Thu Sep 30 00:25:00 CEST 2010

On 9/29/10 12:02 AM, Daniel Kahn Gillmor wrote:
> On 09/24/2010 05:23 PM, Grant Olson wrote:
>> I can test on a Motorola i1 (Boost' droid) with APG, but I'll only be
>> able to do a stopwatch test.  As far as I'm concerned, under one sec is
>> good.
> i'd be interested in seeing the results, even if the mechanism is clunky
> (btw, you could also use a webcam or other digital video and count
> frames, if you want sub 1Hz resolution) -- it's still wall-clock
> measurements, and not CPU usage measurements, but it's a reasonable data
> point.

I did a few quick tests with APG using both 2048 and 4096 bit keys.

AGP is promising, but it's still pretty beta.  Anything it does do seems
to work well, but there's a lot of stuff it doesn't do.  I couldn't
figure out how to sign a document without encrypting, couldn't import
keys from keyservers, etc.

I used the UTF-8 text version of "The Raven" from Project Gutenberg as
my test document.  Of course the document length will only effect the
hash calcs or symmetric encryption inside the envelope, so those
portions should be the same for either document.  But I want interested
parties to have a rough idea of the length of the document.

Basic times for decrypting the document were about 4-5 seconds for the
2048 bit key and 5-6 seconds for the 4096 bit key.  Basic times to
encrypt-to-self and sign with the same key were 5-6 seconds for the 2048
bit key, and 6-7 for the 4096 bit key.

It looks like the times do include using the passphrase to decrypt the
public key, nothing like GPGAgent running...

There's also a mail app, K-9 mail, that has basic GPG integration.  It
can only verify and sign inline, and doesn't seem to be able to import
keys for a given message.  I might go ahead and copy my normal keyring
to the phone and subscribe to a few gpg lists with a dummy account to
see how things work on that front.  If I do, I'll be sure to post a report.


"I am gravely disappointed. Again you have made me unleash my dogs of war."

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