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32bit secure processor tailored for smart cards

Posted: 18 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart card? ARM core? processor?

ARM extends is smart card portfolio with a core based on the Cortex-M0. The 32bit SC000 is targeting the sector traditionally held by 8- and 16bit devices.

Next-generation devices are balancing increasing complexity and extreme cost-sensitive market needs, demanding 32bit efficiency for 16bit cost, according to ARM.

The SC000 extends the SecurCore Processor family which already contains the ARM7TDMI-based SC100 and the SC300 based on the Cortex-M3. ARM says SecurCore enables vendors to simplify their product portfolio on to a single industry standard open architecture and enjoy cost benefits and performance advantages.

Four of the top five silicon vendors in the smart card industry have access to the SC000 processor, or the underlying ARMv6M architecture upon release, ARM said.

"The SC000 allows us to really capture new markets that are currently being serviced by a variety of 8- and 16bit proprietary architectures. These customers have not used the ARM architecture for these applications," said Sumit Sahai, product manager, processor division, ARM. "It is a totally new market for SecureCore."

SC000 contains an optional memory protection unit. "This is a small differentiator as the Cotex-M0 does not have this, Cortex-M3 and the SC300 both have it but it is a requirement for the SC000 to have the ability to include it," said Haydn Povey, marketing director, processor division, ARM.

"We see NFC as a huge growth opportunity for the industry and the SC000 is ideally placed to move that beyond the simple payment card type application," added Povey.

"The SC000 allows the smart card market to have a generational leap from the 8- and 16bit architectures that have mostly been around for more than a decade and are fairly established but not seen as the most secure or efficient solutions. The market is poised for a phenomenal growth in unit shipments and a generational step change in functionality," Sahai said. "We are in discussion with some silicon vendors and we expect volume unit to start in 2011."

"It is our expectations that a number of partners will make announcements about use of the core at Cartes in early December," added Povey. "We are working across the ecosystem with silicon partners and major OEMs as well as the mobile network operators and other users. We seen some very positive feedback."

- Colin Holland

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