August 11, 1999: MARS was chosen as a finalist in the AES selection process. A suggested "tweak" in the key-setup routine of MARS was accepted by NIST. A pseudocode of the new key-setup routine is available here. Also, you can find here the new test vectors for MARS.
MARS is a shared-key (symmetric) block cipher, supporting 128-bit blocks and variable key size. It is designed to take advantage of the powerful operations supported in today's computers, resulting in a much improved security/performance tradeoff over existing ciphers. As a result, MARS offers better security than triple DES while running significantly faster than single DES.
The current C implementation runs at rates of about 65 Mbit/sec. on a 200 MHz Pentium-Pro, and 85 Mbit/sec. on a 200 MHz PowerPC. In hardware, MARS can achieve a 10X speedup factor. Still, both hardware and software implementations of MARS are remarkably compact, and easily fit on a smartcard and in other limited-resource environments.
The combination of high security, high speed, and flexibility, makes MARS an excellent choice for the encryption needs of the information world well into the next century.
The following information is available: