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Dallas Semi unrolls 'first' secure battery-backup controller

Posted: 14 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dallas Semi? DS3600? battery-backup controller? data protection?

Secure battery-backup controller

Dallas Semiconductor has introduced the DS3600, touted to be the industry's first comprehensive secure battery-backup controller for data protection in point-of-sale terminals.

First in a family of secure battery-management products, the company said the DS3600 provides active tamper detection and rapid-erasure key memory. It supports FIPS-140 security levels 3 and 4, and meets the highest requirements of Common Criteria. The device is packaged in CSBGA, a preferred choice for certification because no pins are exposed to the outside world so the package is resistant to tampering, the company explained.

According to Dallas, the memory architecture on the device is innovative and unique to secure battery-backup controllers from the company. The device's proprietary, on-chip nonvolatile SRAM is used for storage of encryption keys. This memory architecture constantly complements the SRAM cells to eliminate the possibility of memory imprinting due to oxide stresses. As a result, this technology prevents the passive detection of data remnants in stressed memory cells.

When the device generates a tamper alarm, the entire 64byte array is cleared within 100ns. This erasure of data is this fast because the memory's high-speed direct hardwired clearing function and on-chip power source ensure active erasure, explained company said.

The device has tamper-detection inputs to interface with system voltages, resistive meshes, external sensors, and digital interlocks. Using low-power operation, it also monitors those components continuously. The device monitors the integrated real-time-clock (RTC) crystal oscillator and will invoke a tamper response if the oscillator frequency falls outside the set threshold. The internal digital temperature sensor has a programmable rate-of-change detector that protects the device's encryption key memory from thermal attacks. The device constantly monitors primary power. In the event of a power failure, an external battery power source is automatically activated to keep the SRAM, RTC, and tamper detection circuitry alive.

Prior to the DS3600, numerous discrete components were required to perform all these same functions. Using the new device enables designers to minimize board space used to implement a security solution, Dallas said.

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