Monday, December 5, 2022

Spintronics Based “Logic Locks” To Enhance Chip Security

By Jay Soni

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Researchers have designed an integrated circuit logic lock that could be incorporated into the electronic chips to defend chip security.

Credit : King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

“The need for hardware-based security features reflects the globalized nature of modern electronics manufacture,” explains Yehia Massoud from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Hardware security is required to prohibit unauthorized access through malicious content. With the development of virtual identification and the Metaverse, this concept of security has become a very crucial factor to consider for tech companies.

Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed protective “logic locks”—based on an advanced branch of electronics called spintronics. These could be incorporated into the integrated circuits of electronic chips to defend chip security.

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Potential vulnerabilities like malwares and viruses can be introduced to the chips externally as they are generally manufactured by specially employed foundries. “To increase confidence in the globalized integrated circuit manufacturing chain, security approaches such as logic locking are now widely used,” says Divyanshu Divyanshu, a Ph.D. student in Massoud’s labs.

To defend chip security, the ITL team designed an integrated circuit logic lock based on a component called a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ). Divyanshu explains that the logic locking of the MTJ works like a basic combination lock. The technology is based on spintronics “a field of study in which a physical property of electrons called spin is exploited, in addition to their charge,”

The MTJ’s electronic output depends on the spin alignment of the electrons within it. When it receives the correct key signal input, only then it produces the correct output. Such devices have several advantages compared to conventional silicon components including low operational voltage and no power consumption during standby.

“With the advancement in fabrication methods, the possibility of using emerging spintronic device structures in the chip design has increased. These properties make spintronic devices a potential choice for exploring hardware security.”

References : Divyanshu Divyanshu et al, Logic Locking Using Emerging 2T/3T Magnetic Tunnel Junctions for Hardware Security, IEEE Access (2022). DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3208650

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