Atmel's SHA-256 Cryptographic Authentication IC Family Prevents Cloning, Secures Data

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Atmel(R) Corporation (NASDAQ: ATML) announced today its AT88SA family of lowest cost, ultra low power, secure cryptographic authentication ICs. The first device in the family, the AT88SA102S, is a general purpose CryptoAuthentication(TM) IC designed to protect consumers from counterfeit electronic and medical consumables, such as batteries, ink cartridges, test strips, blood bags, breathing tubes, and others. They can be used to secure network transmissions such as satellite radio broadcasts or medical records or any other kind of logical data such as firmware or media.

Modern MCU based systems typically use nonvolatile memory to store firmware/software. CryptoAuthentication provides a low cost way to ensure that the stored code is authentic as well as protect downloads from snooping or modification. For systems using AVR(R) and ARM(R) microcontrollers that include AES encryption engines, CryptoAuthentication provides the ideal secure key storage solution.

Industry's Only Authentication IC with SHA-256.

Atmel's AT88SA devices are the industry's most secure authentication ICs, with an embedded SHA-256 engine. The 256-bit cryptographic key size allows more possible keys than there are atoms in the sun, making it essentially impossible to crack using brute force methods. In contrast, the nearest competing authentication IC has a key size of only half the bits. The AT88SA102S includes 23-bits of one-time-programmable fuses that can be used for personalization, status, or consumption logging and a guaranteed unique 48-bit serial number. The device has a high speed single wire interface that is compatible with all microcontrollers, using either a hardware UART or bit manipulation firmware on a single GPIO pin.

Authentication. Authentication is based on a "challenge/response" protocol between the microcontroller host and client. The host could be a portable power tool, printer, medical test equipment, or even a satellite radio transmitter. The corresponding client could be the battery used in the power tool, an ink cartridge, a medical consumable, or a satellite radio. In the case of an ink cartridge or medical consumable, the microcontroller in the printer or medical device can prevent system operation if the "client" is not authentic, and allow normal system operation for authentic clients. In the case of data, such as a broadcast to a satellite radio, the host uses the 256-bit value of the SHA-1 digest as the session encryption key for the radio transmission, based on a random value sent along with the data. Only an authentic client-radio containing an AT88SA102S programmed with the correct secret will be able to translate the random number to the session key properly to decrypt the transmission.

Ultra-low Power Consumption. Authentication ICs spend most of their time active, so sleep mode power consumption is the most important power consumption metric. With sleep mode power consumption of less than 100 nanoamps (nA), Atmel's AT88SA CryptoAuthentication ICs have virtually no effect on system battery life. The part supports a wide supply voltage range of 2.5V to 5.5V, and an even wider 1.8V to 5.5V communications voltage range.

Easy System Integration. In order to speed system design, Atmel provides complete source code libraries for the AVR microcontroller which implements all necessary cryptographic modules to perform the host-side authentication capability. The chip requires only a single pin on the host processor and only three wires on the connector to the consumable plus a standard bypass capacitor for a low overall BOM impact.

Availability and Pricing. The AT88SA102S CryptoAuthentication IC is available now in production quantities in a 2.9mm x 2.1mm footprint, green-compliant (exceeds RoHS) 3-pin SOT-23 package. Priced at $0.66 in quantities of 100 units, it is 40% to 60% less expensive than any authentication IC on the market.

Atmel will introduce additional AT88SA family members during 2009.

About Atmel

Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry's broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions focused on consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.

(C) 2009 Atmel Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Atmel(R), Atmel logo and combinations thereof, Everywhere You Are(R), and AVR(R) others, are registered trademarks, CryptoAuthentication(TM) and others are trademarks of Atmel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other terms and product names may be trademarks of others.

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