By Albert Chiang, MIPS Technologies Inc.
EE Times (04/02/07, 09:00:00 AM EDT)
A system is only as secure as its weakest link, and security becomes ever more important as more equipment moves to a system-on-chip approach. Here we look at the security options available to SoC designers.
SoC designers are increasingly aware of the need for security, in addition to performance, in consumer devices to protect both the device and its content from tampering and copying.
Designing a secure system requires a chipwide approach; retrofitting a system with security functions is only a temporary fix. Protecting a device's secret key and content as well as understanding the basic requirements of a secure SoC are vital to a system designer's ability to create leading-edge products.
With more e-commerce applications running on phone handsets today, mobile systems are now addressing security concerns. While mobile processors previously relied on subscriber identity module cards as the secure element, processor and integration architectures are now essential to the security of the whole system, as more peripherals are integrated into a single chip.
Three elements are vital to a secure system: secure peripherals that prevent unauthorized access, ideally with multiple levels of access; a trusted environment to run trusted software and securely store sensitive data; and cryptographic acceleration.
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