Crypto chip choices confound PC makers

Friday, 20 February 2004, 2:30 AM EST

As PC makers gear up to build desktops with hardware security, they face tough choices about how to implement a small but significant cryptography chip crucial to their architecture. That's because chipmakers are offering a bewildering array of options for so-called trusted platform modules, essentially low-cost silicon safes for a digital key.

Atmel, Infineon, National Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics have been selling standalone TPM chips for some time. The chips typically cost less than $10 in volume and can encrypt and decrypt digital certificates and store them in on-board memory.

The TPM chips are pivotal in a PC industry initiative to build hardware security into the desktop in tandem with the next major version of Windows dubbed Longhorn. Thus even though the chips are small they ultimately represent a new hundred million unit/year opportunity.

By Rick Merritt at EE Times.

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