As have been very well portrayed by the Electronic Business Contributing Editor Rob Spiegel in the "Counterfeit components remains a huge electronics supply chain problem" on 3/3/2009:
"Most industry experts claim the problem is escalating and note that while the federal government and several industry associations have taken measures to limit counterfeiting, it continues to plague the electronics supply chain." - Rob Spiegel
Counterfeiting of electronic components is a growing threat to legitimate IP owners in the electronics industry today. Globalization of manufacturing has driven prices down, but has also advanced the means and tools for much more sophisticated counterfeiting than the world could ever imagine before. Reusing e-wastes is already an unnecessary and a rather outdated way of counterfeiting electronic parts. It is much easier to profit from production overage than to earn the OEM or ODM margins the hard way. It is probably just as easy to transfer entire design and layouts to other similarly equipped facilities at less legally constrained places, and reap even heftier profits for even less risks. Counterfeiters of the electronics industry are so much more resourceful and smarter than any mafia the history has ever seen. Today's chips can literally be copied; just like how softwares used to be - and still are - so vulnerable to piracies. There should be no reason why protections shall not be implemented to protect chips' IP. So, perhaps, time has come for the electronics industry to learn a lesson from the software industries in making an effort in protecting the IP; solutions for countering chip counterfeitings may have become a necessity in the world today.
YFL elite believe our Chip Authentication Technology (CAT) can be a spearhead in the Counter Chip Counterfeit (C3-x-feit) efforts.
Using a cryptography based chip authentication method is perhaps as good and secure as it can be in today's available techniques. To be effective in C3-x-feit, a solution should satisfy several essential requirements:
CAT is based upon a unique YFL elite crypto technology called SEA - which has the following characteristics:
These unique characters of SEA can readily satisfy the essential requirements for an effective solution to the C3-x-feit; and SEA can certainly be the most suitable core crypto technology for the CAT.
A fundamental CAT system can be made up of two devices: a chip to be authenticated - let's just call it a 'chip' - and a device to verify the authenticity of the chip - let's call it an Authenticity Checker or an 'AC'. The authentication process shall be carried out as follow:
CAT enabled chip devices allow legitimate IP owners a means of certifying the product using:
While CAT might not be the miracle technology to stop counterfeiting with the production overage or design thievery just yet, it will be a giant leap forward in making the effort of identifying counterfeiting parts a much easier task. And it will be a valuable tool where IP protection principles are enforceable. Government custom officials, for example, could be given the AC to easily identify counterfeits from legitimate CAT embedded chips. So even if uncertified counterfeit chips can still live in places IP protection is moot, the damages can be limited decidedly elsewhere.
Further on the roadmap is MAOW, a design which combines CAT and AMBIST, enabling chips to be authenticated and to self-test too. Since CAT and AMBIST both require a common SHS function, a major portion of the hardware can be shared; MAOW will be enabled for both chip authentication and on-chip self-test features without needing significant area increase from CAT or AMBIST.
As much as we would like to be a stronger driving force in the C3-x-feit effort, we are a small company with very limited resources at the moment. However, we are diligently working to collaborate with more resourceful companies; and we hope the C3-x-feit effort will become more visible in the coming months.
We welcome any interest of collaboration or discussions. Please contact us for any questions or for licensing. Thank you.