PUFsecurity Launches Unique Quantum-Tunneling PUF-based Root-of-Trust

Unique Quantum-Tunneling

New PUFrt integrates security functions for a unique ID, true random-number generator and encrypted one-time programmable memory for key storage

PUFsecurity has launched the world’s first quantum-tunneling PUF-based root-of-trust IP to fulfill the increasing security requirements of IoT products.

The new IP – PUFrt – is a PUF-based hardware root-of-trust that includes proprietary NeoPUF as the core technology. A physical unclonable function (PUF) provides a “digital fingerprint” that can serve as a unique identifier for a chip, as well as other security purposes, including encryption, identification, authentication, security key generation.

By incorporating the characteristics of NeoPUF, PUFrt combines essential security functions including unique ID, true random number generator, and secure key storage in one macro to meet chip designers’ need for a root-of-trust. PUFrt also provides improved connections between a system bus and function blocks that enhance attack resistance.

PUFrt is composed of PUFsecurity’s PUFuid, PUFtrng, and PUFkeyst. PUFuid provides a simple but robust means of generating IDs for product management from a PUF. putting is a true random-number generator with superb short initial time and low power consumption. PUFkeyst provides secure key storage with built-in 4kbits OTP and logic designs using PUFtrng and PUF values.

PUFrt helps solve key problems that IoT chip designers face, such as improving product-identity management by creating unique IDs. For key generation, which is crucial for coding and decoding sensitive data, PUFrt does this by providing the high-quality output of true random numbers. Furthermore, PUFrt also securely protects keys from physical tampering in the embedded secure OTP.

“PUFsecurity has extended and advanced the strength of eMemory’s NeoPUF and OTP. The new IP PUFrt is a product that chip designers can easily incorporate into their design,” said Charles Hsu, the president of PUFsecurity. “PUFsecurity and its parent company eMemory will provide complete service to clients by leveraging the technology and design strengths of both parties. ”

At the heart of NeoPUF is its inborn secret which relies on the random variations of gate oxide quality.  The micro-difference of the gate oxide can be amplified by applying a high field to cause the defect (dangling bond) generation and resulting in the difference of the quantum tunneling currents. The set of random numbers generated by this technology is very reliable since the dangling bonds cannot be annealed except at temperatures exceeding 600 degrees Celsius. In other words, environmental variations such as noise, temperature, and voltage will not affect NeoPUF. It also can be widely applied to different technology platforms. Furthermore, since no charges are stored on a device using NeoPUF, once the power is off, the PUF derived from this technique cannot be physically traced.

The rapid development of technology always leads to new security risks. The exponential proliferation of connected IoT devices has increased this security risk. The likelihood of security lapses and malicious hacks will soar with the deployment of billions of IoT devices processing and sharing data.

PUFrt provides a root-of-trust for use in semiconductors that minimizes this security risk.

The new IP is validated for design in semiconductors made with a 28nm process technology. New versions of PUFrt in 55nm and 40nm embedded flash processes are expected in the near future. PUFsecurity also plans to implement PUFrt in a FinFET process for automotive and AI applications.