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Optimizing Chip Portfolio via Robust Soft SKUs

Problem: Traditional Security Approaches Require Expensive, Complex Hardwired SKU Implementations

Semiconductor manufacturers want to differentiate with a diverse set of high-value hardware and software IP support (e.g. AI, DSP, computer vision, robot control) from ecosystem partners. IP providers want their innovation to proliferate on a maximum of authorized devices, be fairly paid royalties, and to be protected from IP theft.

In order for semiconductor manufacturers to monetize a breadth of ecosystem IP options, they offer hardware-based step-up SKUs, implemented via OTP/wire bond-out/die-specific approaches. This approach comes with enormous chip manufacturing and inventory management challenges, from one extreme of excess inventory write offs, to the other of missing out on sudden market upswings; in all such cases, an unpleasant ROI for all.

Semiconductor manufacturers can greatly benefit from a software-based enabling mechanism that would drastically reduce their manufacturing complexity. The crippling drawback of a software approach has been the weak security mechanism; for example it can be relatively easily reverse engineered in a BORE (break once, repeat everywhere) attack.

A pure “Soft SKU” concept can be realized with SRAM PUF, which delivers a secure, hardware-based IP enablement capability with a software-like flexibility mechanism. With this approach, a specific chip with this Soft SKU implementation can offer a portfolio of products with the best of both worlds…protection and accountability required by IP vendors, as well as a far simpler logistics flow for semiconductor manufacturers and their supply chain. This capability can power a secure Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) business model to upsell the feature set, even when the device is in the field. And finally, Soft SKUs can help semiconductor manufacturers cost-efficiently realize customer-specific SKU marketing opportunities.

Traditional HW Approach

HW SKU Chip Family

Different SKUs have variations of hardware/firmware IP inside the chip


Inventory Based On HW SKUs

Soft SKUs Based on SRAM PUF

Soft SKUs Figure 1b

HW-level activation with the convenience of SW

  • Custom personalization at CM/OEM/in the field
  • More combinations


Inventory Using Soft SKUs

Power Soft SKU Security Architecture with SRAM PUF

Strengthen A Soft SKU Solution With SRAM PUF HaaS

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