Low cost Ethernet controller adds encryption engine

Paul Boughton

Microchip developed a low cost standalone IEEE 802.3 compliant 100Mbps Ethernet interface controller that includes a hardwired security engine.

The ENC624J600 combines a 10/100Base-TX physical interface (PHY) and a Media Access Controller (MAC) with a hardware cryptographic security engine, and can connect to any PIC microcontroller (MCU) via an industry-standard Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) or a flexible parallel interface. Each device also has a unique, factory programmed MAC address and 24kbytes of configurable SRAM for packet transmit/receive buffering and data storage. This combination of speed, flexibility and features enables designers to create fast, secure network- and internet-connected embedded applications with minimised board space, cost and complexity.

The configurable 24kbyte SRAM buffer memory provides a flexible, reliable data-management system that enables an efficient method for packet storage, retrieval and modification, reducing the memory requirements for the host MCU. The ENC624J600 controllers also integrate hardware cryptographic security engines, which perform RSA, Diffie-Hellman, MD5 and SHA-1 algorithm computations in support of cryptographic protocols such as SSL/TLS, SSH and various VPNs. These integrated hardware features enable secure data transmissions with reduced code size, faster connection establishment and throughput, and reduced firmware development efforts.

Each ENC624J600 controller has a unique, factory pre-programmed Ethernet MAC address, as required for every Ethernet-enabled device put on to the market.
With an SPI interface only four pins are required to connect the controller to an MCU, enabling the use of smaller MCU packages for space-constrained applications. Microchip offers a TCP/IP stack that can be used for free with any of its 8-, 16- or 32-bit PIC  Microcontrollers or dsPIC digital signal controllers. The stack includes SSL encryption and a TCP/IP Configuration Wizard to simplify the configuration of Ethernet projects. Additionally, the stack utilises the industry-standard SSLv3 protocol to secure any TCP connection, while building in support for the HTTP Web server and SMTP email client modules.

A low cost daughter board for the Explorer 16 development board or PIC18 Explorer board contains an ENC624J600 and an RJ-45 jack to enable development of embedded Ethernet applications.
The ENC624J600 Ethernet controller is packaged in 44-pin QFN or TQFP, or 64-pin TQFP packages.
For more information, vist www.microchip.com/Ethernet.