Battelle unveils new technology for chip authentication

Placing a chipBattelle has launched a low-cost technology to fight the scourge of counterfeit integrated circuits (IC) in the electronics sector.

Called Barricade, the technology provides "fast, non-destructive authentication of electronic components from both trusted and untrusted sources," according to the non-profit technology company.

Barricade is intended to help protect electronic devices for aerospace and defense, critical infrastructure, medical devices and other essential systems, according to Battelle, which exhibited the system at the 2015 GOMAC Tech Conference held earlier this week in St. Louis, Missouri.

It consists of signal acquisition hardware and software - installed at customer sites -that allows ICs to be validated in seconds simply by inserting them a chip socket. It determines authenticity based on electrical signatures and a classification algorithm that generates identity signatures for each class of chips in a given class of authentic devices.

"Only a few authentic chips are necessary to enrol an entire class of chips into Barricade" and it is applicable to both analogue and digital devices, said Battelle in a statement.

"Unlike existing anti-counterfeiting technologies, which require tagging and tracking, or time-consuming and costly commercial testing, Barricade provides a simple and repeatable process that can be conducted at any point in the supply chain," it added.

Over the past 50 years, the worldwide IC market has expanded dramatically, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which said that in 2013 the import value of ICs into the US was $231bn, a 20 per cent increase on the prior year.

As a result of the globalization of the marketplace, most US production of advanced circuits has moved to offshore foundries in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan and China, which has helped cut prices but made ensuring the integrity of circuitry components increasingly difficult.

 "As counterfeiting continues to be a growing issue for both suppliers and manufacturers, ensuring that all components are effectively and accurately verified for authenticity has become an increasingly time consuming and expensive task," said Battelle's cyber technical director Larry House.

"Barricade represents a giant step forward from current approaches to chip authentication that will dramatically simplify the validation process. We look forward to helping move the industry towards a cost-effective, efficient and standardized process for chip authentication."

In addition to detecting counterfeit integrated circuits, testing of Barricade in commercial environments has shown promise for its application in other critical areas, including detection of military grade or commercial grade components and cloned components, according to Battelle.

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