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IP coprocessor eases Wi-Fi encryption on M2M apps

Posted: 28 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Connect One? iChipSec CO711AG? IP coprocessor?

Device networking specialist Connect One has announced the release of iChipSec CO711AG, a secure internet protocol (IP) coprocessor chip that promises easy addition of encrypted Wi-Fi connectivity to price-sensitive machine-to-machine (M2M) applications.

The iChipSec coprocessor encrypts and decrypts data and acts as a controller that enables a host processor to use 802.11b/g wireless networks for sending and receiving secure data via a wide range of IPs. The device also supports switchable access to cellular, dial-up, 10/100BaseT Ethernet networks. Typically requiring only one man-month of development time, the company said its new product speeds the introduction of secure communication for privacy-sensitive non-PC products such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals and medical devices.

iChipSec is a new branch within the iChip family of IP coprocessors. It is a drop-in SoC that promises to free up processing time on the host processor by offloading cryptography, network security and TCP/IP tasks. The device uses the SSL3/TLS1 protocol to support one secure client socket session or one secure FTP session. It supports digital signatures using RSA public and private keys and hash algorithms to sign and verify data. Cipher suites used for encryption include 3DES, AES-128, AES-256, ARC4, MD5 and SHA-1. For Wi-Fi applications, the device also supports WEP and WPA encryption.

The CO711AG promises exceptional ease of adding security to an embedded design. One command is needed to open the SS3/TLS1 socket and an additional command opens a secure FTP session. Four commands are needed to set the parameters used to define the cipher suite, the certificate authority, the iChipSec certificate, and the iChipSec private key. iChipSec uses X.509 client and server certificate authentication to perform both client and server authentication and to manage a chain of server certificates. It stores and manages up to four certificate authority certificates, plus the private key for client certificate authentication.

The CO711AG TCP/IP, security and crypto offload engine promises the manufacturer many benefits. According to Connect One, the device eliminates the need to use a more powerful processor for encryption since iChipSec works with any host processor. Because it works with any or no host RTOS, iChipSec eliminates the complicated, time-consuming task of porting and shrinking the Wi-Fi drivers and WPA supplicant from large Windows CE or Linux libraries to an embedded RTOS. It also eliminates the need for additional memory to store the Wi-Fi drivers and WPA supplicant in the application memory, the company added.

The device supports up to 10 simultaneous TCP and UDP sockets for multitasking Internet sessions and two TCP listening sockets for acting as servers. It also includes upper layer Internet protocols like SMTP, POP3, MIME, and HTTP, FTP and Telnet clients, and a Web server. It includes two Web sites, one for configuring iChipSec and one for use by the application, that can serve up to three browsers simultaneously. iChipSec firmware is remotely updateable via sockets, FTP, or a Web browser, the company said, ensuring that devices deployed in the field will be able to keep up-to-date with new protocol standards.

The chip includes 1Mbyte of remotely updateable flash memory for storing the Internet and security protocols, device configuration parameters and the application Website. It also includes large SRAM buffers to help streamline data packet transmission between the host device and the Internet. The core and I/Os operate at 3.3V and at speeds up to 66MHz. CO711AG is packaged in an RoHS-compliant 121-ball 8BGA form factor.

iChipSec CO711AG is available for $13.75 for over 50,000 units. The II-EVB-330 evaluation board for secure LAN, cellular or dial-up access costs $450. The II-EVB-331 evaluation board for secure Wi-Fi access costs $725. WPA2 encryption will be available in Q3. Support for secure SMTP (SMTPS) and HTTP (HTTPS) will be available in Q4.




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