The engine adheres to NIST’s FIPS 140-2 Level 3 standard, a U.S. Government standard that specifies requirements for cryptographic modules.
According to the company, until now, the cost of complying with Level 3 was so high that very few computer and data storage manufacturers could afford it. As a result, most “secure computers” employed software solutions that could not go beyond Level 2 but worse, also slowed the performance of the computer.
Level 3 includes requirements for physical tamper-resistance and identity-based authentication, and for a physical or logical separation between the interfaces by which "critical security parameters" enter and leave the module, and its other interfaces.
ST Microelectronics said its unique HardCache-SL3/PC eliminates these problems because the hard-wired encryption engine embedded within the chip performs all of the encryption and decryption algorithms that are needed each time the system retrieves data stored from the memory to the central processor with no impact to performance.
The HardCache-SL3/PC is fully supported by software drivers and a development kit to lower the cost of developing new secure applications.
Initially developed for use by U.S. government departments and agencies, FIPS 140-2 is fast becoming a de facto standard, both nationally and internationally, and is the model for the International Security Standard ISO 19790 currently being developed.
“HardCache-SL3/PC sets a new reference level for the industry by providing a solution certified by NIST for its highest non-military level of security, that is accessible to a broader audience, thanks to its affordable cost,” said Francesco Brianti, Vice President Open Market Business Unit, in a statement.
Separately, STMicroelectronics introduced an IC that combines EMI filtering and ESD protection for SD 3.0 Ultra High Speed (UHS-I) micro-SD cards.
The exposed connections in the card slot must have protection against an electrostatic discharge, which can be caused simply by picking up the device and can damage the system’s circuitry.
However, EMI filters and ESD-protection ICs must be optimized for the specified interface speed to ensure full-speed communication between the system and the card. ST’s new EMIF06-MSD03F3 protects micro-SD interfaces up to the specified UHS-I speed of 104 Megabytes per second.
According to Strategy Analytics by 2013 some 500 million mobile handsets could ship with a UHS-I compliant SD Card slot.
STMicro has also expanded its sensor portfolio of digital Mems microphones with the MP34DT01 top-port microphone, the first Mems microphone with a top-port sound-inlet position with a signal-to-noise ratio of 63 dB and flat frequency response in the full audio band of 20–20,000 Hz.
The company claims the MP34DT01 outclasses competing devices as the first top-port digital Mems microphone with better acoustic parameters than existing bottom-port mics. ST’s Mems microphones use acoustic sensor technology jointly developed with Omron.