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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rambus IoT security plans put it on collision course with ARM

By Nick Flaherty

Rambus has moved from being a patent and technology licensing company to a product and now an IoT services company that wants to take on ARM. Nick Flaherty talks to Jerome Nadel, the chief marketing officer, on where the company is heading, from cold computing in data centres to secure core IP and software technologies.
"Rambus has had a very interesting history, billions of dollars flowed in through high value licensing with the first versions of the company, you might call them Rambus 1.0 and 2.0,” said Jerome Nadel, senior vice president and CMO of Rambus. “The thing that held these technologies together was a licensing platform, from LED lighting to differential power analysis.”
The interview at EEnews Power covers the moves into secure cores and ioT services.
"We thought if we could put a secure core as a hardware root of trust in an SoC and have key software to manage that we could have better lifecycle management. Instead of firmware updated over the air (OTA) we could be going back to a hardware route of trust for anti-counterfeiting and content protection.”
“The vision hasn’t fully materialised, but with features as a service, you start at the fab and then in the field update it securely with new services,” he said. This opens up a service model, where customers or Rambus can manage the updating of the chips in the field.
The company has developed a secure core that can sit alongside a mainstream processor to provide this capability, starting with the RISC-V core. “We silo the secure processing from general processing and partnering with SiFive and promoting open source hardware, this notion of cores that can be programmed and addressed in field is a very relevant model – design starts are so expensive you could democratise those and make money in the field,” he said.
“On the platform level you have to be open to other cores so we [interface to processor cores from]  TI, ST, Synopsys, our infrastructure interfaces with our cores and other cores – we have interfaces for a set of cores with a software development kit (SDK) and  product development kit (PDK).

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