Secured SAM A5D4 MCU for Industrial, Fitness or IoT Display

Secured SAM A5D4 MCU for Industrial, Fitness or IoT Display
by Eric Esteve on 10-06-2015 at 12:00 pm

The new SAMA5D4, ARM Cortex-A5-based, expands the SAMA5 microprocessors family, adding a 720p resolution hardware video decoder to target Human Machine Interface (HMI), control panel and IoT applications when high performance display capability are required. Cortex-A5 offers raw performance of 945 DMIPS (@ 600 MHz) completed by ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) DSP architecture extension. To target applications like home automation, surveillance camera, control panels for security or industrial and residential gateways, high DMIPS computing is not enough. To make the difference, on top of dedicated video decoder (H264, VP8, MPEG4) in hardware, you need the most complete set of security features.

Whether for home automation purpose or for industrial HMI, you want your system to be safeguarded from hackers and also your investment to be protected against counterfeiting. You have the option to select 16-b DDR2 interface, or 32-b if you need better performance, but security is not anymore an option. Designing with Atmel SAMA5D4 will guarantee secure boot, include ARM Trust Zone, encrypted DDR bus, tamper detection pins and secure data storage. The SAMA5D4 also integrates hardware encryption engines supporting such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)/3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard), RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), ECC (Elliptic Curves Cryptography), as well as SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) and TRNG (True Random Number Generator).

If you design fitness equipment, such as treadmills and exercise machines, you may be more sensitive to connectivity and user interface functions than to security features, even if it’s important to feel safe in respect with counterfeiting. Connectivity includes Gigabit and 10/100 Ethernet and up to two High-Speed USB ports (configurable as two hosts or one host and one device port) and one High Speed Inter-Chip Interface (HSIC) port, several SDIO/SD/MMC, dual CAN, Etc. Because the SAMA5D4 is intended to support industrial, consumer or IoT application requiring efficient display capabilities, it integrates LCD controllers with graphics accelerator, resistive touchscreen controller, camera interface and the above mentioned 720p 30 fps video decoder.

The MCU market is very competitive, most of the products are developed around the same ARM based family of cores (from Cortex-M series to Cortex-A5), so the key importance of differentiation. Performance is an important differentiation factor, and the SAM A5D4 is the highest performing MPUs in the Atmel ARM Cortex-A5 based MPU family, offering up to 945 DMIPS (@ 600 MHz) completed by DSP extension ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD (single instruction, multiple data). Using safety and security on top of performance to augment differentiation is certainly an efficient architecture choice. As you can see in the block diagram below, the part features the ARM TrustZone system-wide approach to security, completed by advanced security features to protect the application software from counterfeiting, like encrypted DDR bus, tamper detection pins and secure data storage. But that’s not enough and the MCU also integrates hardware encryption engines supporting such as AES/3DES, RSA, ECC, as well as SHA and TRNG.

The SAMA5 series target industrial or fitness applications where safety is also a differentiating factor. If security helps protecting the software asset and makes the system robust against hacking, safety directly protects the user. The user can be the woman on the treadmills above pictured, or it can be the various machines connected to the display that SAMA5 MCU pilots. The SAMA5 series includes functions that ease the implementation of safety standards such as IEC61508. These include a main crystal oscillator clock with failure detector, POR (power-on reset), independent watchdog timers, write protection register, etc.

Cortex A5 Atmel’s SMART SAM A5D4 is a medium-heavier processor and well suited for IoT, Control Panels, HMI, and the like, differentiating from other Atmel’s MCU by the means of performance and security (and safety). The ARM Cortex-A5 based MCU delivers up to 945 DMIPS when running at 600 MHz, completed by DSP architecture extension ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD. The most important factor differentiating SAM A5D4 is probably the many security features implemented, from ARM TrustZone to encrypted DDR bus, tamper detection pins, secure data storage and various hardware encryption engines (AES/3DES, RSA, ECC, SHA and TRNG). These security features protects OEM software investment from counterfeiting, user privacy against hacking and safety features make the SAM A5D4 ideal for industrial, fitness or IoT applications.

From Eric Esteve from IPNEST