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Controller chip enables secure, fast POS transactions

Posted: 10 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Connect One? iChipSec? CO2128? Internet Protocol? controller?

Connect One announced it will release early next year a secure Internet Protocol (IP) communication controller chip that reduces the cost and speeds the design of new IP-enabled POS terminals. The the iChipSec CO2128 chip also includes hardware enhancements that enable high throughput by offloading IP and network security protocols from the host processor.

CO2128's tightly integrated ARM7 core processor, RTOS, and security and networking protocol stack promise efficient and secure high-speed transaction processing. For high-bandwidth applications like video streaming, the device's high-speed parallel interface supports 32Mbps with UDP/IP hardware acceleration. Data encryption/decryption is also accelerated in hardware, which reduces SSL3 transaction processing.

iChipSec can act as a router among LAN, Wi-Fi and modem platforms as it includes a Network Address Translation and port forwarding functionality. This allows a payment terminal to serve as an access point or gateway for other terminals connected to it, helping reduce infrastructure cost and enhance network security.

10/100BaseT Ethernet MAC
The new device reduces BOM to embed secure network connectivity by including a 10/100BaseT Ethernet MAC, which permits manufacturers to save several dollars by connecting to an Ethernet PHY chip instead of a more expensive MAC/PHY. It also includes USB v.2.0 full-speed host and device interfaces, enabling the use of the newest Wi-Fi chipsets and other USB peripherals. The 128-pin chip also boasts a high-speed parallel bus that delivers over 32Mbps throughput, allowing next-generation POS terminals to display high-quality video advertisements to the customer at the POS.

iChip's firmware boots and runs from shared or dedicated flash. Shared memory is accessible via UART, parallel, two-wire or USB interfaces. Dedicated flash can be connected via the external bus interface or SPI. Other communication peripherals are accessible via USB, EBI, two-wire, SPI or UART interfaces. The chip includes 256Kbytes of SRAM.

The new controller supports a wide range of IP and communication drivers for moving data over 10/100BaseT LANs, 802.11b/g WiFi, cellular and dial-up networks. It supports up to 10 simultaneous TCP and UDP sockets, permitting the terminal to connect to multiple servers concurrently; two TCP listening sockets that enable it to act as a server; SMTP, POP3, MIME, HTTP, FTP and Telnet clients; and a Web server hosting one Web site for configuring iChipSec and one for the application.

AT+i Protocol
The logical interface between the host application and iChipSec is Connect One's AT+i Protocol, a high-level API that enables fast and easy implementation and maintenance of the security and IP. AT+i requires no Internet programming expertise on the part of the designer and minimum modification of the host application. AT+i's SerialNET plug-and-play operating mode enables serial-to-Internet full-duplex routing without any changes to the host application.

The iChipSec uses the SSL3/TLS1 protocol to support a secure socket or FTP session using RSA Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Cipher suites used for encryption include 3DES, AES-128/192/256, ARC4, MD5 and SHA-1/256. For Wi-Fi applications, CO2128 also supports WEP and WPA encryption. For additional security, CO2128 includes tamper-protection.

For applications requiring lower cost, Connect One offers the 64-pin CO2064, which does not include an EBI or high-speed parallel bus. CO2128 and CO2064 are packaged in an RoHS-compliant LQFP form factor. The chips operate at 48MHz in a low-leakage 0.13?m process. The core operates at 1.2V, while I/Os operate at 3.3V. Both chips operate in the industrial temperature range.

Samples of iChipSec CO2128 will be available in January for $8.25 and the CO2064 for $7.50 for over 50,000 units through distribution. The II-EVB-330 evaluation board for secure LAN, cellular or dial-up access will cost $1,450. The II-EVB-331 evaluation board for secure Wi-Fi, LAN, cellular or dial-up access will cost $1,725.

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