Hash functions are everywhere, like the MD5 data to verify a download, or in password storing, or in sites certificates. There are many methods to perform an hash, some less secure than others. There is an ongoing competition at NIST to decide an algorithm that will become a new standard for hash functions. The target is to have the successor of the SHA-1 and SHA-2 families of hashes, and its name will be SHA-3. At the beginning of the competition NIST received 64 candidate algorithms and now, after many studies, they reduced them to 5:
These days I met one of the minds behind the Keccak algorithm: Guido Bertoni. His team is composed by people working for STMicroelectronics and NXP, which are ideal work environments to study and test the feasibility of hardware implementations. I give him and his team my best wishes for the competition.