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ST unveils flash-based secure MCU using 90nm node

Posted: 13 Nov 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:secure MCU  embedded flash memory  2.5G  3G  EEPROM 


STMicroelectronics' new secure MCU based on embedded flash memory is said to be the first to be produced using 90nm process technology.

ST21F384—the first secure micro within ST's established ST21 smartcard platform, optimised for 2.5G and 3G mobile communications—uses flash memory in place of mask ROM for its program memory, to provide increased flexibility and shorter lead times for manufacturers, coupled with increased cost-efficiency from its 90nm production.

The new ST21F family will enable card manufacturers to react quickly and cost-effectively to the fast changing needs of the mobile market, customising applications late in the production process, at the card personalisation stage, and addressing the requirements of multiple mobile network operators (MNOs) with a single product. Supply chain risk and complexity can be reduced, as the silicon is not linked to a specific operator profile.

ST21F384 is based on an enhanced 8/16bit CPU core with 16Mbyte linear addressing range, running typically at 21MHz. It embeds 7Kbytes of user RAM, plus 384Kbytes of flash memory, organised as 128byte pages, with an erase capability similar to that of the EEPROM used in earlier devices in the secure family. Current consumption complies with 2G and 3G specifications to meet the requirements of (U)SIM applications. The MCU includes a hardware Data Encryption Standard accelerator and a user-accessible Cyclic Redundancy Code calculation block.

Card manufacturers using the flash-based secure MCU will be able to reduce lead times throughout the production process, with less time required to validate the OS on the card and to provide samples to operators. A reduced time-to-volume production will also be achieved due to the ability to stock unprogrammed devices. The cycle time to implement OS feature updates and new MNO requirements will also be dramatically shorter.

With application code stored in flash memory, card manufacturers will no longer pay ROM mask costs; in addition, the code itself can be smaller, as it is only necessary to implement the features required for the final customer, rather than creating a general solution. ST's on-chip flash loader provides cost-efficient operating system loading.

Samples of the ST21F384 are available now, with volume production set to start in December. The ST21F384 is available as sawn or unsawn wafers, and in 6-contact (D17) and 8-contact (D95) RoHS-compliant modules, with contact assignment compatible with ISO 7816-2. In wafer form, it is priced at Rs.17.80 (45 cents) in quantities of 100,000 units.

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