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Increased Design Security Through Programmable and Reconfigurable Devices

Revision "C", 02/05/04

While a wide variety of techniques exist to enhance design security, many incorporate specialized components and circuitry that add cost and increase complexity.  Adapticom seeks to enhance security by more highly integrating designs, utilizing the most secure and advanced programmable and reconfigurable digital, analog, and mixed signal devices.

Recent advances in device integration have allowed the propagation of reconfigurable devices that encompass a wide variety of common board level functions.  The use of such devices has had a significant positive effect on Design For Security (DFS) efforts.  Rather than adding components and complexity to the design, these components reduce design overhead in a surprising number of ways:

Today's reconfigurable devices have progressed well beyond the FPGA and PAL technologies that proliferated during the 1990's and now include mixed signal devices such as the Motorola 56800E core-based family of Hybrid Controllers, which combine the processing power of a DSP and the functionality of a microcontoller inside a compact 64-pin LQFP.  This device features 60 MIPS performance (at 60 MHz), along with 48 KB of on-chip Flash memory and a comprehensive set of peripehrals.  It extends the capabilities of the 56F8322 by adding additional analog-to-digital converter (ADC) inputs, and timer input/output pins and has the following features:

A second device family of note, the Cypress PSoC CY8C27x, contains over 100 reconfigurable analog and digital library components created from 12 fundamental analog and 8 digital blocks.  Each of these PSoC (Programmable System on Chip) devices contain a 24 MHz 8-bit microcontroller unit (MCU); 16 kbytes of flash memory; 256 bytes of SRAM; an 8x8 multiplier with 32-bit accumulator; power and sleep monitoring circuits; and a precision real-time clock.  The largest device in the family, the CY8C27443 (datasheet), contains the following resources:

and can be configured to provide such features as: Since the devices have a defined set of analog and digital resources, that can be configured in many ways the overall device function is determined entirely by its programmable configuration. As a result, there are little or no "clues to function" provided by a visual examination of the PCB. Many devices, including both the Motorola and Cypress parts have security features to prevent configuration readback.  The reconfigurability of the devices allow for a tampering defense through "configuration scrubbing", or the loading of "white" configurations.

Other configurable devices with analog/digital functions:

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