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Rambus takes charge of Arm’s CryptoCell, CryptoIsland IP

Building a watertight SoC? You'll have to go through IP-slinger now

Updated Rambus, perhaps best known for its patent litigation, has acquired sublicensing and development rights to Arm's CryptoCell and CryptoIsland Root of Trust technology, and will be offering these as part of its own security IP portfolio in future.

Existing customer licenses from Arm for this IP will not be affected, but semiconductor design teams will hereon license this IP directly from Rambus, the biz said.

The expansion of its existing Data-at-Rest product line with the Arm CryptoCell and CryptoIsland IP will mean more choices for customers looking to build secure system-on-chip (SoC) units with certified Root of Trust designs, Rambus said.

CryptoCell is a security subsystem which provides root-of-trust cryptographic services for a device, while CryptoIsland integrates a subsystem around a CryptoCell and includes its own processor and software stack to create an isolated enclave for secure processing.

The CryptoCell portfolio includes the CC-312, CC-712 and CC-713, which are intended to offer key management and encryption functions in SoCs, such as those based on Arm's Cortex-M and Cortex-A cores. Rambus said these will now be available alongside its own RT-1xx Root of Trust cores for various applications in the IoT market.

Meanwhile, the CryptoIsland CI-300 core will be offered alongside the Rambus RT-6xx Root of Trust series. The most common use cases are expected to be Smart Cards, Mobile Application processors and 5G Modems, Rambus said.

"As a leading security IP provider, we're excited to be working with the Arm ecosystem on this mission critical initiative of continuing to enable secure Arm-based SoCs," Rambus veep and general manager of Security IP Neeraj Paliwal said in a statement.

The terms of the agreement between Arm and Rambus were not disclosed. We asked Arm, and a spokesperson told us: "This is a licensing agreement. The CryptoCell and CryptoIsland product family will now be available through a license agreement which grants Rambus rights to sublicense and modify the IP."

However, the announcement from Rambus appears to imply more than this, saying that Rambus will be providing the ongoing support, maintenance and development of Arm's security IP from now. We have asked the company for clarification.

We also asked Arm the reasons for this move, and it sent us the same statement from Arm fellow and VP of Technology Strategy Andy Rose that Rambus included in its announcement.

"Securing the world's data will be one of the greatest technology challenges over the next decade of compute – one that requires strong industry collaboration to protect individuals, business and the devices of tomorrow," Rose said.

"By making our CryptoCell and CryptoIsland product family available through Rambus, we're helping to ensure the ongoing delivery of cost-effective and scalable security IP for cryptographic services across multiple markets," he added.

Rambus, like Arm, is an IP company that licenses its technology to other semiconductor manufacturers. It also manufactures some of its own DDR3/4/5 chips. It was the creator of the RDRAM memory technology, and gained notoriety in the past for various patent infringement cases against memory companies in particular. Last year, the company unveiled a PCIe 6.0 Interface Subsystem design for incorporation in third-party silicon products. ®

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