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Security solution checks chip design pilferage

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

Keywords:Cetricom Security? Silicon Design Protection? KeyInject?

Security specialist Certicom Corp. recently launched the Certicom Security for Silicon Design Protection to help fabless semiconductor designers protect proprietary chip designs and reduce the growing problem of illicit surplus chip manufacturing for the gray market.

According to the company, the new solution combines the original software-based Certicom KeyInject system with a new hardware IP core to enforce security policies throughout the silicon manufacturing process. If third-party manufacturers produce chips for sale in the gray market, Certicom's security solution renders the counterfeit silicon unusable while ensuring that legitimately produced chips work as intended.

Certicom KeyInject software adds cryptographic keying material to the silicon at various stages of the chip production process. These keys are used to "unlock" the IP core, which is added to the chip design. If all the keys are not used, i.e., a stage of the legitimate process has been bypassed, the chip will not be usable. The new solution also enables fabless design companies to track key usage by metering the keys and producing an audit trail for each sub-contractor.

"Gray market production is one of most challenging issues facing the electronics industry today. Certicom Security for Silicon Design Protection will help alleviate that problem and make low-cost silicon foundries as reliable as high-priced alternatives," said Jim Alfred, director of product management at Certicom. "Certicom's new product creates a multi-level authentication process that with even one missed step will result in a crippled and unusable chip. It works on the same basis as a two-key safety deposit box lock. The box won't open if you don't have all of the keys."

Certicom Security for Silicon Design Protection is available this quarter and is priced depending on the number of sites.

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