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Atmel subsystem provides ultra-security

Posted: 28 Dec 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:atmel? trusted computing group? at97sc3201s? trusted platform module? tpm?

Atmel Corp. introduced a single-chip hardware security subsystem designed specifically for embedded systems such as voting machines, gaming systems, PDAs, STBs, POS terminals, ATMs, portable mass storage devices and industrial controls.

Based on Trusted Computing Group industry standards, the AT97SC3201S Trusted Platform Module (TPM) offers embedded systems ultra-security that, according to Atmel, has only been available for PCs.

The new embedded TPM is the only TPM on the market to offer a system management bus (SMBus) interface, said the company. Most embedded systems use the SMBus, while all competing TPMs use the Low Pin Count (LPC) bus used with Intel- and AMD-based PCs. As a result, embedded systems were simply unable to take advantage of TPM hardware-based security without difficult and time consuming bus translation or had to rely on less secure software-based security solutions, explained Atmel.

Kevin Schutz, the company's product line manager for TPMs, commented, "The AT97SC3201S gives embedded systems the capability to provide a variety of software integrity measurements, perform mutual authentication processes, and present credentials that have not been available to embedded systems designs before. Now any embedded system can take advantage of hardware security based on TCG standards."

The AVR-based TPM includes, on-chip, a 500ms, 2,048bit crypto accelerator and a random number generator that can generate an unlimited number of asymmetric encryption/decryption key pairs on the fly, and execute data encryption and decryption. A tamper-resistant EEPROM on the chip permits the secure storage of up to twenty encryption and signature key pairs.

Additional system security is provided by SHA-1 hash functions that provide the ability to create, store and compare a "safe" system software profile. The hashed value is stored in the TPM's Platform Configuration Registers (PCRs) and can be compared to the current state of the system's software. In addition, the ability to immediately detect changes in a system's software profile allows the owner to detect a compromised system and prevent theft by denying access to or even shutting down the system. A change of even a single bit will be detected.

Atmel added that a real time clock on the AT97SC3201S provides unique date stamping for authentication and attestation processes. This feature is essential for STBs in which order time and delivery time of pay per view content must be time stamped. The TPM detects any undesirable event, allowing the system to shut down anytime one is detected.

Housed in a 6-by-6mm multi-lead frame (MLF) package, the 3.3V AT97SC3201S is priced at $4.50 in quantities of 10,000.

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