RealTime IT News

ARM Inks Encryption Deal for Smart Cards

Hoping to give yet another secure layer to smart cards, microprocessor designer ARM Wednesday said it has agreed to work with M-Systems for its SecurCore family of cores. Kfar Saba, Israel-based M-Systems produces flash memory chips.

SecurCore is Cambridge, UK-based ARM's 32-bit answer for smart card and secure integrated circuit (IC) development. The technology is then used in networking devices for safer e-commerce, banking, networking, mobile multimedia, identification and public transportation.

Smart cards, which are more popular throughout Europe than in the U.S., have an integrated processor and hold a variety of personal information and applications.

M-Systems is reportedly in advanced negotiations for a joint investment with the Israeli government seed fund, but it is not known if Israel is looking at using the technology for its smart card program in the same way the U.S. Defense Department is.

Under the terms of the agreement, ARM will use M-Systems' SuperMAP cryptographic coprocessors (hardware macrocells) to give system designers privileged access to ARM processor cores to, in essence, build a smarter smart card. The devices offer public key encryption in both conventional RSA and Elliptic Curve (with single step multiply and divide).

"The ARM SecurCore family, with its first SC100 product released early 2001, has become the most widely licensed 32-bit RISC architecture for smart cards," said ARM Secure Segment marketing manager Dominique Lutz. "SuperMap technology will provide ARM Partners with an additional choice of encryption technology optimized for different types of applications such as smart card, data storage, wireless or networking systems."

As more security features are included, M-Systems said companies can add-on other features including its DiskOnChip and DiskOnKey stand to better develop the SuperMAP and ARM cores.

"The important security capabilities that SuperMAP provides will complement the outstanding features already found within ARM cores," said M-Systems Fortress Security Division manager Dan Dariel. "This agreement with ARM further validates the importance of our SuperMAP technology to the microprocessor industry and to a wide variety of applications requiring the latest in security technology."

More than 70 chip makers, including Intel, Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Texas Instruments, license ARM's intellectual property designs to make their own processors for use in devices such as mobile phones, fax modems, handheld computers, and set-top boxes.