Microcontrollers have integrated hardware encryption engine

Paul Boughton

Microchip’s eXtreme Low Power (XLP) PIC microcontrollers (MCUs) with the PIC24F GB2 family features an integrated hardware crypto engine, a Random Number Generator (RNG) and One-Time-Programmable (OTP) key storage for protecting data in embedded applications.

The PIC24F GB2 devices offer up to 128KB Flash and 8KB RAM in small 28- or 44-pin packages, for battery-operated or portable applications such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensor nodes, access control systems and door locks.

Several security features are integrated into the PIC24F GB2 family, to protect embedded data. The fully featured hardware crypto engine, supporting the AES, DES and 3DES standards, reduces software overhead, lowers power consumption and enables faster throughput. 

This is another example of Microchip’s Core Independent Peripherals, which can run with no CPU supervision. Also, a Random Number Generator creates random keys for data encryption, decryption and authentication, to provide a higher level of security.  

For additional protection, the One-Time-Programmable (OTP) key storage prevents the encryption key from being read or overwritten. These security features increase the integrity of embedded data without sacrificing power consumption. With XLP technology, the GB2 family achieves 180µA/MHz Run currents and 18nA Sleep currents, for very long battery life in portable applications.

The GB2 family integrates USB for device or host connections

For connectivity, the GB2 family integrates USB for device or host connections, as well as a UART with ISO7816 support, which is helpful for smartcard applications.

With these features, the PIC24F GB2 devices protect embedded data while conserving power and maximizing battery life, all in packages as small as 28-pin QFN for medical and fitness applications  such as pedometers, wearable fitness and handheld devices; computer applications such as PC peripherals, printers and portable accessories; and industrial applications which include security door locks, access control systems, security cameras, POS terminals, smart card readers, heat/gas meters and IoT sensor nodes.  

Microchip also has a flexible range of certified wireless modules for Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy, making it easy to add wireless connections to a PIC24 GB2 application.

The combination of the PIC24F GB2 family with Microchip’s embedded wireless solutions, enables low-power wireless connectivity to Internet-connected things in addition to faster throughput and lower BOM costs.