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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

8bit microcontrollers fight back with dual core for payTV

While 32bit microcontrollers are moving down into the 8bit market at 65cents, 8bit devices are moving to dual core.
Atmel has developed the industry's first dual-core secure microcontrollers targeting demanding smart card applications such as the PayTV conditional access market.
Atmel's TwinAVR microcontrollers (MCUs) offer two independent cores, memory and peripherals on a single chip, unlike current secure MCUs on the market today that offer a single core.
The Master Core is built around Atmel's 8-/16-bit RISC secureAVR, with 128K ROM, 36K EEPROM and 6K RAM. The Secure Core is also built around Atmel's 8-/16-bit RISC secureAVR, with 64K ROM, 18K EEPROM, 6K RAM, but with AdvXTM Crypto Processor, TDES, AES & AIS31 TRNG. This dual core architecture simplifies the implementation of the RED/BLACK concept of segregation between highly sensitive plaintext data (RED) and encrypted data (BLACK), leading to an easier and faster certification.
"As the PayTV conditional access market continues to grow and become more complex, smart card developers demand higher performance and storage capacity while maintaining the highest level of security," said Eric Le Cocquen, Atmel's marketing manager for PayTV products. "Atmel's TwinAVR addresses all these issues. Segregation of the RED and BLACK domains traditionally relies on hardware firewalls and a lot of software. The TwinAVR goes one step beyond by offering, on the same chip, a master core to implement the BLACK domain and a secure core to implement the RED domain, thus providing an indisputable segregation between the two domains. The two cores also increase the overall system performance considerably, equaling a 32-bit MCU, while the data flash interface enables large storage capacities. This new family offers a complete solution for smart card developers in the PayTV market."

The TwinAVR also features an ISO 7816-3 smart card interface and a built-in DataFlash interface. Large amounts of data can be stored with flash die stacking to the microcontroller and by fitting both chips in a standard smart card module. This product meets Common Criteria EAL5+ security certification.
Pricing starts at $1.85 USD for quantities of 100Ku in bare die form, with samples of the AT90SDC104 4Mbit TwinAVR samples will be available Q1 2010 at $4.00 USD for quantities of 100Ku in smart card modules.

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