New Industry Products

Hardware Cryptography-Enabled 32-bit MCUs

May 04, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Microchip Technology Inc. today announced a new hardware crypto-enabled 32-bit microcontroller. The CEC1302's hardware-based cryptography suite offers significant performance improvements over firmware-based solutions. The CEC1302 makes it easy to add security to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, offering easy-to-use encryption and authentication for programming flexibility and increased levels of security.

Security threats are increasing exponentially in terms of frequency, targeted devices, malignancy and costs of attacks. The CEC1302 allows for pre-boot authentication of the system firmware in order to ensure that the firmware is untouched and uncorrupted, thereby preventing security attacks such as man-in-the-middle, denial-of-service and backdoor vulnerabilities. It can also be used to authenticate any firmware updates, protecting the system from malware or memory corruption.

"Including cryptography in the hardware is a game changer in terms of security," said Ian Harris, vice president of Microchip's Computer Products Group. "It offers a level of speed and security that just isn't possible in low-power devices when implemented in firmware. There is a growing need for not just smart but connected devices, especially in IoT applications. Connectivity brings control, sensing and the ability to update system software over the Internet, but it also opens the door to security breaches. The CEC1302 offers sophisticated security capabilities that offer the benefits of a connected device without the security concerns typically associated with being connected to the Internet."

The CEC1302 offers private key and customer programming flexibility with a full-featured microcontroller in a single-package solution in order to minimize customer risk. The device provides savings in terms of power drain and also improved execution of application performance. In addition, since the CEC1302 is a full 32-bit microcontroller with an ARM® Cortex®-M4 core, adding security functionality only results in a small additional cost.

The CEC1302 can be used as a standalone security coprocessor or can replace an existing microcontroller. The hardware-enabled public key engine of the device is also 20 to 50 times faster than firmware-enabled algorithms, and the hardware-enabled hashing is 100 times faster.