Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spy vs. Spy in the Chip World

Schneier on Security: Backdoor Found (Maybe) in Chinese-Made Military Silicon Chips
tells a tale of chips "manufactured in China", that could be "infected". The chip in question is "prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport".The publicizers of this vulnerability appear quite proud of their discovery and reverse engineering skills.

The chip in question is a type of programmable device (FPGA), hence the assertion that it is used in such a variety of applications. And, the back door is apparently related to the JTAG port.

Check out the story and the insightful comments. I'm inclined to think this is a tempest in a teapot, but it's an interesting topic to ponder.

If such a problem needs solving, a company that I met at DAC may have just the solution. Check out SypherMedia International for all your circuit obfuscation needs!

Friday, June 01, 2012

My DAC Shopping List

DAC is next week! Are you ready? Organized? Got those appointments line up?

Hopefully you're better prepared than I and started your research before yesterday. What sparked my action (finally) was a colleague asking me "what to see" at DAC.


  • I'm not including the major EDA vendors, particularly Synopsys. It's not because they're not interesting, but because they do a good job of keeping me informed, and I have other avenues for updates.
  • My interest is in design implementation, so my picks are focused in that area. I don't work much with Verification tools. It's not to say there isn't equal or more innovation in that realm.
  • The list is compiled from what's in my head and what interested me from my email Inbox. I hope to do more research and add more links over the coming days.

My List

The most interesting synthesis competitor. Good buzz for the past several years, and backing from major customers like Intel and Xilinx.
They're doing interesting things combining ESL design and verification, and have innovative products for power optimization.
Up and coming RTL Analysis company. Agile and innovative.
I'm forever trying to figure out where ESL design and synthesis fits. They've been working on this for years.
Silicon IP is important and will only grow more so as chip capacity grows exponentially. ChipEstimate helps provide the catalog and planning tools for assembling an SoC.
I haven't looked closely at what they're planning for DAC, but have caught a few headlines that refer to some mysterious big announcement. Will have to check it out.

Other Voices