Microchip's first ARM processor is ultra secure

May 11, 2016 | 16:23
Microchip's first ARM processor is ultra secure
Microchip's first ARM processor is ultra secure
Microchip's brand new CEC1302 microcontroller is their first device with an ARM core. Based on a Cortex-M4 core its main feature is its integrated cryptographic engine supporting public key encryption, symmetric key encryption, secure hashing and random number generating.

Besides its ARM core the CEC1302 incorporates 128 KB of SRAM and 32 KB of boot ROM. Contrary to popular design, the device does not have flash program memory, instead it has two SPI memory interfaces to connect to external program memory. Before executing any code loaded from external memory, the device validates it using a digital signature encoded according to PKCS #1. This provides automated detection of invalid code that may be a result of malicious or accidental corruption. It occurs before each boot of the host processor, thereby ensuring a HW based root of trust not easily thwarted via physical replacement attack. The signature uses RSA-2048 encryption and SHA-256 hashing.

A toolchain from MikroElektronika to support the CEC1302 is available, comprising two clicker boards, a mikroProg, and adequate support in their ARM compilers with Crypto libraries.
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