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Open source immobiliser protocol stack is AES-128 compliant

Posted: 16 Nov 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Protocol stack  immobiliser  open source 

Atmel Corp., has released an open source license AES-128 based immobilizer protocol stack targeted at the automotive market. It aims to improve an engineer's time-to-market with their designs and facilitates interoperability between various semiconductor vendor ICs.

Since immobilizer devices are part of nearly all Remote Keyless Entry/ Passive Entry Go systems today, interoperability between IC suppliers and true peer-reviewing of the achieved security strength becomes extremely important. The release of this immobilizer protocol stack under an open source licence allows all industry stakeholders to review and contribute within a defined legal framework.

"By offering open source capabilities, a variety of semiconductor manufacturers, tier1 suppliers and car manufacturers can now contribute to improve the protocol while maintaining interoperability between suppliers," said Nicolas Schieli, senior marketing manager for car access products, Atmel Corporation. "Even more, additional features can be added by other corporate contributors to address application-specific requirements under the same licence terms. Atmel continues to find innovative solutions to help the entire supply chain to bring their products faster-to-market."

The Atmel AES-128 immobilizer protocol stack boasts of been the first open source stack to allow interoperability between different semiconductor vendors. With current conventional solutions, the necessary communication protocol layers are closed source or patented, which prevents car manufacturers from adopting multi-vendor sourcing strategies. This convention method also leads to lock-in situations that are counterproductive when quality problems arise.

The immobilizer protocol stack defines all necessary layers from the physical level to the AES crypto-engine on a key fob and base-station devices. The physical layer is based on FDX (Full-Duplex) which is widely used by all established IC manufacturers for backward compatibility. This also makes it possible for most existing base stations and key fob devices to seamlessly support this protocol stack.

Additionally, the configurability of the protocol stack enables all critical parameters to be optimised towards specific-application requirements. Indeed, an authentication scheme (single or mutual authentication), challenge and response lengths, data rate and modulation, number of secret keys, AES computation time can all be configured to allow optimal turn-around time versus minimum coupling factor for a given application. The protocol also specifies key learning processes that can optionally use an additional transport key to further secure the supply chain. This mechanism allows for encrypting the initial "pairing" communication between the key fob and vehicle, which takes place at the car manufacturer line.

The protocol definition document is available upon request (free registration) on the Atmel web site. The open source licence is included in the definition document.

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