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Microchip intros secure MCUs for IoT apps

30 Jun 2014  | Max Maxfield

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A number of microcontrollers (MCUs) have been developed that can address the low-power demands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as sensor nodes. However, the market seems to be lacking in MCUs that offer security to IoT applications.

More recently, everyone seems to be becoming more aware of security issues. People are saying things like "Home automation is a great idea, but not if anyone on the planet can take over my home!" Similarly with things such as medical equipment, it's great for doctors to be able to monitor your condition and vary your drug regime remotely as required, but you don't want a 16-year-old delinquent hacker to have the ability to modify your insulin dose or your pain medication.

All of this explains Microchip Technology's introduction of its PCC24F "GB2" family of MCUs. In the case of security (the red blocks in the image below), these MCUs boast a fully featured hardware crypto engine, a hardware random number generator, and one-time programmable (512bit) key storage for additional protection.


The random number generator can be used to generate keys for data encryption, decryption and authentication. The fully-featured, highly-configurable hardware crypto engine offers 128, 196 and 256bit support for all modes of AES, DES and 3DES (triple DES). Performing these tasks in hardware reduces software overhead, lowers power consumption and dramatically speeds data throughput.

Starting at $1.30 each in volume, members of the PCC24F "GB2" family support up to 128KB Flash and 8KB RAM. They are available in small 28- or 44-pin packages. These devices are geared for various industrial, medical and home automation applications, including things such as IoT sensor nodes, access control systems and handheld battery-powered products.

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