Analysis tool reads through chips’ architectures

April 17, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Analysis tool reads through chips’ architectures
Back in 2016, chip security analysis startup Texplained was making its first investments in laboratory equipment, analyzing various chips’ internals and commercializing its reports as a catalogue of heavily scrutinized reverse-engineering IPs, identifying security weaknesses.

The idea was to raise the awareness of the semiconductor industry about the accessibility of invasive attacks for embedded data as well as IP theft through reverse-engineering. Next, the company experienced a 60 to 70% growth in revenue before breaking even in 2018. This happened with the launch in 2017 of light-footprint security counter-measures that Texplained would provide as IP for its customers to design in their chips.

Extraction of integrated circuits’ architecture using layered
SEM photographs (source: Texplained)

After proving technically the efficacy and reliability of its in-house reverse-engineering tools, Texplained has now packaged a commercial version which it plans to release in the third quarter of 2019, under a perpetual license (including updates and maintenance services). Prior to its official launch, ChipJuice as it is called (referring to its capacity to extract a chip’s complete internals), will first be tried out by a few select customers in what the company describes as an Insiders’ program starting in May, which will bring valuable feedback to wrap-up the first commercial release.

Of course, having the tool with the SEM-image stitching and circuit-analysis capabilities for reverse-engineering doesn’t remove the need for an exhaustive sample preparation in a lab, stripping out every single process layer and imaging every square nanometre under the microscope. But as Texplained’s CEO Clarisse Ginet reminded eeNews Europe, the stakes are high and government-backed labs already have the tooling to do that.

IC reverse-engineering

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