Memory and Storage

Protecting embedded memory from external threats

16 June 2020
A block diagram of the Semper Secure NOR flash as it fits into a system for automotive, industrial and communications sectors. Source: Infineon

Infineon has introduced an embedded security and safety function into its Semper Secure NOR flash memory portfolio to protect applications from threats by unauthorized and external agents.

Embedded systems in the automotive, industrial and communications market are threatened by hackers looking to impersonate, tamper, replay, provision, disclose or compromise the integrity of flash memory. Because flash has become an important component of embedded systems as it stores the boot code and system parametric data, the need to secure this technology is critical.

Infineon created Semper Secure to work with its Semper NOR flash memory after the acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. As more memory is being used in not just the automotive market but other segments as well, embedded security has become a critical need to protect these components as well as the overall application they are used in.

“With growing code size and complexity, there is a need and requirement for more eFlash and eSRAM,” Sandeep Krishnegowda, director of memory at Infineon told Electronics360. “No viable non-volatile technology has low process nodes below 28 nm. eFlash in the SoC is being disintegrated and external flash needs to be cryptographically protected from external threats.”

Krishnegowda said there have been several instances where attackers focus on vulnerabilities in secure boot of the system-on-chip.

In automotive systems, safety is a fundamental requirement to guarantee a tolerable level of risk, as defined by the ISO 26262 automotive mandate. These risks are managed by car manufacturers and systems providers but with an increasing complexity of electronics in these vehicles, functional safety is now trickling down the supply chain to chipmakers including memory devices, Krishnegowda said.

And this threat “remains the same with connected systems” and “all markets will be able to benefit with embedded security in memory,” Krishnegowda said.

Combining security

Infineon claims the Semper Secure NOR flash is the first memory offering to combine security and functional safety in a single NOR flash device. This protects the flash memory even when the flash is placed outside of a processor and becomes vulnerable to attacks.

Semper Secure also serves as a hardware root-of-trust to provide end-to-end protection. A Semper Solution Development Kit (S-SDK) allows system integration to accelerate time-to-market and reduce total cost-of-ownership, Infineon said.

Semper Secure flash is AEC-Q100 automotive-qualified with an extended temperature range of -30° C to 125° C, supports 1.8 V to 3.0 V operating ranges and is available in densities of 128 Mb, 256 Mb and 512 Mb. The flash devices are offered with quad serial peripheral interface (SPI), Octal SPI and HyperBus interfaces.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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