Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Microchip uses Arm technology to secure IoT endpoints

Steve Rogerson
June 27, 2018



Arizona-based Microchip Technology is working with Softbank’s chip design subsidiary Arm to create 32bit microcontrollers (MCUs) that can secure IoT endpoints.
 
With the booming growth of IoT endpoints, security is sometimes an afterthought for many designers, increasing the risk of exposing IP and sensitive information. To address the growing need for security, the Sam L10 and L11 MCU families are available from Microchip Technology.
 
The MCU families are based on the Arm Cortex-M23 core, with the Sam L11 featuring Arm TrustZone for Arm v8-M, a programmable environment that provides hardware isolation between certified libraries, IP and application code. Microchip enables robust security by including chip-level tamper resistance, secure boot and secure key storage that, when combined with TrustZone technology, protects user applications from remote and physical attacks.
 
Both MCU families are said to have the industry's lowest power consumption, as well as capacitive touch capability with water tolerance and noise immunity. When benchmarked for power consumption, the L10 received a ULPMark score of 405, which is over 200 per cent better performance than the nearest competitor certified by the EEMBC embedded microprocessor benchmark consortium.
 
Microchip uses proprietary PicoPower technology to reduce power consumption in active and all sleep modes.
 
"IoT endpoints often require low power and high security," said Rod Drake, vice president of Microchip's MCU32 business unit. "However, the growth of IoT nodes is happening so fast that security is not always addressed. The features of the Sam L11 are exactly what customers need to plan for security early in the design cycle."
 
In addition to TrustZone technology, security features include an on-board cryptographic module supporting the AES encryption standard, Galois counter mode and Sha secure hash algorithm. The secure boot and secure key storage with tamper detection capabilities establish a hardware root of trust. It also offers secure bootloader for secure firmware upgrades.
 
Microchip has partnered with Trustonic, a member of its security design partner programme, to offer a security framework that simplifies implementation of security and enables users to introduce end products faster. Microchip has also partnered with Secure Thingz and Data IO to offer secure provisioning services for L11 users that have a proven security framework.
 
Both MCU families offer Microchip's latest PTC peripheral touch controller for capacitive touch capabilities. Designers can add touch interfaces that provide a smooth and efficient user experience in the presence of moisture and noise while maintaining low power consumption. The touch interface makes the devices suitable for automotive, appliance, medical and consumer human-machine interface applications.
 
The L10 and L11 Xplained Pro evaluation kits are available to kick-start development. All L10 and L11 MCUs are supported by the Atmel Studio 7 integrated development environment, IAR Embedded Workbench, Arm Keil MDK and Atmel Start, a free online tool to configure peripherals and software that accelerates development. Start also supports TrustZone technology to configure and deploy secure applications.
 
A power debugger and data analyser tool is available to monitor and analyse power consumption in real time and fine tune the consumption numbers on the fly to meet application needs.
 
Microchip's QTouch modular library, 2D touch surface library and QTouch configurator are also available to simplify touch development.
 
Japan-based Softbank is selling 51 per cent of Arm’s Chinese subsidiary to a China-led group of investors for around $775m.