Stepping Up To Greater Security

Protecting 5G-connected AI devices requires a fundamental change in the way we think about security.


The stakes for security grow with each passing day. The value of our data, our devices, and our network infrastructure continually increases as does our dependence on these vital resources. Reports appear weekly, and often daily, that describe security vulnerabilities in deployments. There is a steady drumbeat of successful attacks on systems that were assumed to be protecting infrastructure, identities, program flow, secrets and keys. These attacks frequently allow full access to the core and edge network and millions of attached devices. The industry needs to do a better job protecting silicon, devices, the supply chain and most importantly the valuable assets of their customers and consumers.

As we move into the 5G era, a rising torrent of data will be generated by smart IoT devices. Peak data rates will rise from 1 to 20 gigabits per second (Gb/s) while latency falls from 10 to 1 millisecond. High throughput and low latency make it possible to offer a host of real-time applications and services. On the flip side, smart IoT devices by their connected nature open new avenues for attack. Protecting these 5G-connected AI devices requires a fundamental change in the way we think about security at the architecture level. The 5G backbone infrastructure calls for very efficient and extremely high throughput data-in-motion security protocol acceleration. At Rambus, we supply dedicated, silicon-proven IP designs that provide line rate acceleration of network security protocols to 800 Gb/s and beyond.

Transitioning from the edge to the network core, we enter the world of the data center, traditionally a physically protected fortress focused on processing performance, traffic throughput and storage. With the addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities available to data center customers, a plethora of new AI accelerator architectures offering efficient training and inference performance have been announced by the industry. These accelerators will be massively deployed in data centers, processing training models and data across many different applications and market verticals. The high value of these proprietary models and training sets requires strong protection and isolation. This calls for security mechanisms deeply embedded in the computing silicon. Rambus has supplied dedicated hardware Root of Trust cores to many of these accelerator designs offering them secure solutions meeting every one of the well-known seven properties of highly secure devices as published by Microsoft Research.

AI/ML will dramatically impact many industries, with automotive being another prime example. There are numerous design starts in process addressing the various grades of autonomous driving, vehicle to everything connectivity, infotainment and more. Traditional silicon suppliers to the automotive market are addressing these use cases with functional safety foremost in mind. The emerging trend is that automotive OEMs themselves, as well as new chip entrants, are designing silicon for this rapidly expanding market opportunity. All these design starts, whether from incumbents or new entrants, have two common requirements: best-in-class security, and best-in-class certified safety mechanisms. At Rambus we safeguard these devices with our licensable ISO 26262 ASIL-B certified embedded hardware security module (HSM) silicon IP products.

Given the mission-critical need for security across all these markets, the industry must step up its game with respect to protection. At Rambus, we have made it our mission to secure all semiconductors and the semiconductor supply chain. The Rambus Security IP business draws its heritage from Cryptography Research, Inc. (CRI) who pioneered protecting silicon devices. Starting in the early nineties, CRI’s trailblazing work led to the understanding that cryptography alone was insufficient to protect valuable assets. Improper implementations could allow adversaries to successfully deploy side-channel attacks to extract keys and completely bypass security mechanisms.

Building on this foundation, Rambus has developed a complete security IP portfolio with effective and field-proven countermeasures. These solutions are licensed and deployed by all tier one semiconductor vendors today. The effectiveness of these robust chip-level protections requires a mechanism for the secure injection of secret key materials in devices. To provide this capability, Rambus has also built a highly successful and scalable infrastructure to allow secure personalization and provisioning. This allows fabless semiconductor manufacturers to adopt secure key injection in 3rd-party (untrusted) manufacturing environments. As a result, our secure silicon IP and provisioning products protect over 9 billion customer devices annually.

Today, it is our vision to extend our technology leadership into the most comprehensive and differentiated security technology portfolio available. Beyond the licensing of our technology, we’ve seen the rapid uptake of our security IP products in hundreds of designs. This is part of an industry wide shift away from in-house developed security IP to best-of-breed solutions from trusted partners like Rambus. As the world’s largest supplier of secure silicon IP products, designers can turn to Rambus to protect data both at rest and in motion, and from the cloud to consumers’ end devices.

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