Adding muscle to smart cards

Wednesday 17th March 2010
ARM core SC000. Courtesy: http://www.arm.com/

Understandably ARM chose the Cartes-Asia conference in Hong Kong, for the launch of its highly compact, energy-efficient ARM SecurCore SC000 processor, designed specifically for highest volume smartcards and embedded security applications.

After all, it's here you can see what is expected from such cards, by Toshiba (right).

The SC000 processor is the latest addition to the ARM SecurCore family of processors. It expands the range of target applications into tamper-resistant contact and contactless smartcards such as SIM, government, banking, transport, ID and conditional access by delivering, what ARM claims, is unprecedented feature-rich 32-bit performance at competitive 8/16-bit costs, area and power footprints.
 
The SC000 processor leverages ARM’s expertise in secure processing, and joins its solidly established, broadly-supported SC100 and SC300 SecurCore processors already licensed to more than 15 vendors  among them Atmel, NXP, Samsung, STMicroelectronics and Toshiba, accounting for more than 50% of the global 32-bit smart card shipments in 2009.
 
The smartcard market shipped more than 4bn units last year, and estimated to grow at 10% CAGR over the next five years. Independent research indicates the 32-bit secure processor subsegment is poised for significant growth over the 8/16-bit legacy solutions, struggling to offer features, performance and energy-efficiency demanded by next-gen smartcards.
 
Four of the top five silicon vendors in the smartcard industry will have access to the SC000 processor, or the underlying ARMv6M architecture, upon release, enabling them to design the next generation of secure devices that can cater the global smartcard market. A number of other silicon vendors are also in advanced SC000 processor discussions with ARM.  SC000 processor-based devices are expected to start shipping in volume as early as 2011.  

ST believes that the ARM SecurCore SC000 processor will enable a new generation of Secure Smartcard ICs, offering high 32-bit performance and low power consumption, particularly adapted to secure contactless applications such as Government and ID, Banking and multi-application,” says Marie-France Florentin, GM of STMicroelectronics Secure Microcontroller Division.

Device and cost consolidation are key drivers of the global smartcard market. The demand for low-power, fully-featured smart cards is also fuelled by increasingly security and cost-conscious government and transport agencies. Industry-standard secure 32-bit platforms such as the ARM SecurCore SC000 processor are essential to meet this and enable OEMs and vendors to focus on adding real value.

“Smartcards are being used for an increasingly broad range of applications with diverse system requirements and price points, while the industry demands standardization to minimize costs and time-to-market.” said Eric Schorn, (right) VP of Marketing, Processor Division, ARM.

“The highly-configurable SC000 processor meets these needs perfectly inside of an unprecedented area, cost and power footprint.”


Software development on the SC000 is supported by the Keil Micro-controller Development Kit (MDK)  the most widely used tool chain in the smartcard world, and will enable easy migration of designs to the SC000 processor through high-quality development and debug features and an interface familiar to smartcard software developers worldwide.

ARM SecurCore SC000 processor is available for licensing now for delivery in the third quarter of 2010, along with a full range of supporting technology.  

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