Rambus has become the latest major industry name to take up the RISC-V open instruction set architecture (ISA), announcing the launch of a hardware security core designed for use in embedded platforms ranging from high-performance networking hardware to Internet of Things (IoT) products.

Joining names including Nvidia and Western Digital, which has confirmed that it will be releasing a billion RISC-V cores in its storage products in the next two years, Rambus has confirmed that its latest creation takes advantage of the increasingly popular open ISA in place of proprietary alternatives like Arm and MIPS. The result: the CryptoManager Root of Trust hardware security core, built on RISC-V.

'The fundamental pillars of architectural design freedom, secure processing siloed away from general processing, and layered security with a root of trust designed for multiple security layers, are unique to the CryptoManager Root of Trust design and enable easy implementation with the highest levels of protection,' claims Bret Sewell, senior vice president and general manager of Rambus' security division. 'The CryptoManager Root of Trust also embeds features that enable semiconductor manufacturers and device OEMs to insert hardware keys, and enables IoT service providers to manage IoT endpoints throughout their lifecycle in the field.'

'The Meltdown and Spectre flaws revealed a new class of vulnerabilities as common processors employ acceleration techniques like speculative execution to improve processing performance,' adds Rick O'Connor, executive director of the RISC-V Foundation. 'With solutions like the Rambus CryptoManager Root of Trust, the extensible RISC-V ISA enables developers to build connected products with a fundamentally more robust approach to security.'

The key reason for choosing RISC-V, Rambus has claimed, was the very fact that the architecture is fully open, allowing for the design of a completely custom processor built with security at the forefront - impossible when implementing closed-source proprietary IP blocks in a product. The design also allows Rambus to guarantee that there are no back-doors which could allow the chip, designed to sit separately to a system's main application processor, to provide illicit access to data or system operations.

More information on the CryptoManager Root of Trust core is available on the official website.


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