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ARM seeks help defining mobile security API

Posted: 09 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM? ARM core? TrustZone? Broadcom? Motorola?

ARM Holdings has asked a handful of mobile chipmakers to help define the next-generation applications programming interface (API) for its TrustZone extensions to the ARM core.

Companies including Broadcom and Motorola welcomed the effort, although others are taking a wait-and-see approach in a sector that is undergoing increasing fragmentation.

"We need more commonality across [cellular platforms], and to make that happen, ARM launched today a user group for the evolution of their TrustZone API," Dominique Bolignano, chief executive of Trusted Logic, an ARM partner speaking at a panel on mobile security at the third annual ARM Developers Conference last week.

Motorola is already locked down on its 2007 handset products, but the new API could shape 2008 and 2009 products now in development, he added.

The ARM initiative faces competition from other groups trying to establish specifications for mobile security. The PC-oriented Trusted Computing Group recently released a handset security standard using a version of its Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware. The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) has done significant work on mobile security, and the Java Community Process has developed mobile security standards.

"There are different kinds of applications where a TPM might fit or the OMA approach might fit," said Mark Buer, a director of engineering in Broadcom's security group. The company has not yet released any mobile security hardware but is evaluating use of both ARM's TrustZone and the TPM hardware for handsets, he added.

A security expert from Freescale Semiconductor said he had been briefed on ARM's API plan but was taking a wait-and-see approach. "I still want to see how this fits in with other standards," said Asaf Ashkenazi, a lead architect in Freescale's wireless group.

Freescale is heavily involved in the Open Mobile Terminal Platform, a carrier-led effort which is not attempting to set an API. Freescale is also actively engaged with OMA, he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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