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Ref design adds biometric security to portable HDDs

Posted: 05 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cypress? Symwave? CY4671? biometric security? fingerprint recognition?

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. and Symwave Inc. have jointly introduced a reference design for adding biometric security to external HDDs using fingerprint recognition technology. The reference design promises flexibility and convenience for both HDD manufacturers and their customers.

The new CY4671 reference design, based on Symwave's SW6888 fingerprint sensor IC and Cypress' EZ-USB FX2LP USB controller, addresses the growing need for secure data on portable drives. It allows manufacturers of portable HDDs or enclosures to easily add biometric security that limits access to data on the drives to those with a registered fingerprint. The reference design supports 1-, 2.5- and 3.5-inch hard drives of all capacities.

The combined solution comes with design-in documentation, datasheets, BOM, a software developer's kit, Symwave's BioPrint application software, firmware and mass production tools specifically designed to run the Cypress EZ-USB FX2LP and Symwave SW6888. It allows customers to bring biometric security enabled hard drives to mass production without requiring additional software development. The solution enables manufacturers to ship enclosure products without bundling the HDDs, alleviating risks associated with carrying HDD inventories unnecessarily before shipment.

"We consider the biometric security market to be a significant opportunity where we can leverage the unique flexibility and performance of the EZ-USB FX2LP controller," said Rajiv Nema, product marketing manager for Cypress's high-speed USB product line. "The combined Cypress/Symwave reference design offers a complete feature set in terms of its flexibility and ease-of-use."

Secure and public partitions
The reference design provides both a "secure" and a "public" partition in the available disk space of the drive. The public partition is available as soon as the hard drive is connected to a PC, while the secure drive is accessible only after a registered user authenticates his fingerprint. Users can store non-secure data on the public partition, while storing confidential information on the secure partition. The combined solution also provides for a second layer of security through file encryption and decryption.

All data on the secure partition is hidden via hardware control to protect the drive from hackers attempting to access the drive maliciously. Further, the hardware protection keeps the drive from being disconnected from its original housing and accessed by other hard drive readers.

The new CY4671 reference design can be downloaded free of charge from the "Reference Designs" section of Cypress' website.

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