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Date: 15th Jun 2011

Boot code protection solutions for TI's processor chips

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is offering its customers added protection against unauthorized reading of intellectual property (IP) and sensitive data in its TMS320C6748 digital signal processors (DSPs) and OMAP-L138 DSP + ARM processors. These processors are part of the TI's C6000 DSP and C6-Integra DSP + ARM product platforms.

The two areas of protection include:
Secure boot capability prevents external entities from modifying customer-developed algorithms to stop unauthorized users from misusing the customer's system and its operation by preventing insertion of malware, reverse engineering and system cloning.

Multi-layer encryption offers the ability to upgrade boot and application software code remotely on flash memory while allowing the boot sequence to remain secure. Multi-layer encryption is enabled when a device-specific cipher key, known only to the device, is used to protect customer encryption keys. When an update is needed, the customer creates a new encrypted image using its encryption keys. Then the device can acquire the image wirelessly and overwrite the existing code.

Examples of applications that would benefit from the secure boot and secure field upgrade feature include medical patient monitors that utilize proprietary, certified algorithms and software-defined radios (SDRs) to ensure communication isn't compromised if the radios fall into the wrong hands.

"Software is a key differentiator for companies to be competitive in their markets; however, it is also their leading cost factor," said Joy Ji, OMAP-L1x DSP + ARM product marketing manager, TI. "TI's newly enhanced processors enable customers to protect those investments, which is why TI is integrating secure boot on our industry-leading processors. This hardware-based security system allows our customers more robust IP protection than typical software-based solutions."

For applications requiring manufacturing facilities that support secure-boot technology, Logic PD, a member of TI's Elite Design House Network, provides design services, turnkey design through manufacturing and manufacturing facilities that support the secure-boot technology implementation at its U.S.-based, ITAR- and ISO 13485-compliant manufacturing sites.

The secure boot, multi-level encrypted C6748 DSPs and OMAP-L138 DSP + ARM processors are sampling now at 375MHz and 456MHz with industrial temperature ranges available. Production pricing starts at $18 per 1,000 units (1ku) for the C6748 DSP and $21.40 per 1ku for the OMAP-L138 DSP + ARM processor. TI also offers secure-boot-enabled devices in the C5000 ultra-low-power DSP platform and plans to introduce future software-compatible devices with varying levels of security in additional DSP, DSP + ARM and ARM-only platforms.

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