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Start-up introduces 'unclonable' silicon chips

Posted: 09 Sep 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:"unclonable"  silicon chips  electronic circuit  Physically Unclonable Functions 

A Palo Alto security and authentication start-up known for its "unclonable" silicon chips, relaunched Wednesday as Verayo in an effort to move its focus from government defence contracts to commercial markets.

The fabless semiconductor company offers a unique small electronic circuit that relies on technology known as Physically Unclonable Functions, or PUFs, a type of "DNA or fingerprint" for silicon chips, developed by technologists at MIT.

PUF is designed to exploit slight inconsistencies in each IC to create a unique digital signature for each chip. "Similar to people, no two silicon chips are exactly alike," says Vivek Khandelwal, Verayo Inc. director of marketing. "You can have two chips from the same wafer in a Pentium laptop, but they are slightly different."

PUF technology is added to each chip to capture the unique fingerprint. It sends a current through the circuit and measures the path it takes to create a 64bit random number for the chip to use as a secret code.

Verayo's authentication technology can integrate into many kinds of silicon chips such as FPGAs, ASICs and smartcards. It can provide authentication for IDs, passports and documents, as well as electronic devices, high-cost luxury items and pharmaceuticals.

When using the technology with radio frequency identification, readers issue the unique fingerprint and compare the response to authenticate the chip. While special RFID readers are not required to process PUF-enabled RFID chips, they will likely require a firmware upgrade.

Khandelwal says PUF technology creates a semiconductor security tool that makes chips uncloanable, capable of authenticating itself and creating unique keys for crypto applications, and reduces costs and lowers power consumption.

Verayo uses RFID inlays from RSI ID Technologies. Its first product, Vera X512H, has 512bit memory and is compatible with the ISO 14443-A standard for 13.56 MHzRFID chips. It offers 512bit user memory with 64bit or longer challenge numbers. The company plans to officially launch the product next week at RFID World 2008 in Las Vegas.

- Laurie Sullivan
RFID World

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