"There’s so much data going through and heat being generated, Microsoft sees cold as the future. There’s going to be so much data movement we need to look at new models, so there’s a lot of applications for cold computing.”
Then there was the acquisition of Cryptography research in 2011 for $342m as part of that disparate IP platform, bringing fundamental patents on differential power analysis (DPA) that would protect chips from being monitored.
“On top of Cryptography Research acquisition, there was an expectation that DPA would be used in mobile phone handsets but that didn’t happen. Every EMV chipcard has this technology but the royalty rates are super low. The ability to license was definitely constrained but we thought if we could put a secure core as a hardware root of trust in an SoC and have key software to manage that we could have better lifecycle management. Instead of firmware updated over the air (OTA) we could be going back to a hardware route of trust for anti-counterfeiting and content protection. Qualcomm has billions of WiFi and radio chips with our cores in them, managed by a software platform called Cryptomanager.”
“The vision hasn’t fully materialised, but with features as a service, you start at the fab and then in the field update it securely with new services,” he said. This opens up a service model, where customers or Rambus can manage the updating of the chips in the field.
The company has developed a secure core that can sit alongside a mainstream processor to provide this capability, starting with the RISC-V core. “We silo the secure processing from general processing and partnering with SiFive and promoting open source hardware, this notion of cores that can be programmed and addressed in field is a very relevant model – design starts are so expensive you could democratise those and make money in the field,” he said.
“On the platform level you have to be open to other cores so we [interface to processor cores from] TI, ST, Synopsys, our infrastructure interfaces with our cores and other cores – we have interfaces for a set of cores with a software development kit (SDK) and product development kit (PDK).
Next: Competing with ARM