By using the inherent random nature of device startup during the power-on phase, Intrinsic ID’s Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) technology enables extremely high device security in SRAM-based devices (MCUs, SoCs, etc.) and FPGAs, without the need for additional components in your end product. Target applications that may require increased device security include aerospace & defence, chiplets, IoT, medical, microcontrollers, and sensors.
In the simplest terms, a PUF can be attributed to the slight variation in every silicon device due to inherent sub-micron imperfections in the manufacturing process. When applied to SRAM, for example, this means that when an SRAM device is powered on, the order and timing in which the bits initialise is unique; a similar phenomenon can be found with regards the structures within an FPGA. In both cases, initialisation behaviour on start-up has been found to be a repeatable process for each device, meaning that a “silicon fingerprint” can be created to establish a truly individual, unclonable nature to every single SRAM or FPGA component.
This silicon fingerprint can be used to create a cryptographic key to serve as a root key for each chip. This root key can be reliably reconstructed from the PUF when the system starts up, so there is no need to store it in any form of memory. When the device is powered off, this root key becomes invisible to attackers, making PUFs an extremely secure method of protecting a device from unwanted access or duplication.
The advantages of using PUF-based security are that traditional methods of adding security require random number generators or key injection with keys stored in non-volatile memory, or additional secure elements. The former leaves devices open to hardware attacks as a key is present within the device, and the latter means that additional chips are needed within your design, complicating your supply chain. Key injection is also a costly process that requires trusted factories, which further complicates the manufacturing process and limits flexibility in design choices.
Intrinsic ID’s solution is reliable, low-cost, and simplifies your supply chain. It can also be implemented at various points in the design process, whether you are an OEM or a semiconductor device manufacturer. For the latter in particular, Intrinsic ID’s solution adds significant value to your devices without having to make changes to the fabrication process.
If you would like to learn more about Intrinsic ID’s range of options for implementing PUF security in your SRAM-based device or FPGA, fill out the application form below with details of your project, and ipXchange will put you in touch with Intrinsic ID for consultation.