Yenra : Radio : Secure SDR : Programmable chip with non-volatile security encryption protects intellectual property inside a software defined radio system


A tactical radio maker is using the unique security capabilities of Altera's Stratix II devices to cut the cost of protecting intellectual property (IP) inside its AN/GRC-512A(V), a software defined radio (SDR)-based system. By reducing the cost of securing its IP -- as well as integrating more functions into a single chip -- Ultra Electronics TCS now enjoys greater economies of scale as it pursues new markets around the world.

"The security feature in the Stratix II device allows easy and inexpensive protection of our IP as we work with our manufacturers, creating improved economies in new markets," said Stephan Charbonneau, radio products manager at Ultra Electronics TCS. "The high capacity and exceptional digital signal processing (DSP) performance of Stratix II devices combined with Nios II processors enabled us to add firmware-based support for additional waveforms, which extends our product lifetime. We also increased reliability by reducing three boards of DSP processors and other components to a single Stratix II-based board."

Developers must hand off proprietary technology to multiple manufacturing partners around the world. Prior to adopting Stratix II devices, Ultra Electronics TCS protected its IP with custom-built chips. Now, with the benefit of the Stratix II family's security features, the company can avoid the high cost and risk associated with custom chips, maintain the highest level of protection for its intellectual property.

Stratix II devices are the first programmable chips to support configuration security encryption using the 128-bit advanced encryption standard (AES) and a non-volatile key. The AES key provides greater security than the 56-bit data encryption standard (DES) key or Triple DES (112-bit effective key size). The non-volatile key retains its information when power is off, eliminating the need for battery backup.

"By relying on leading-edge programmable logic devices and the industry's most robust IP security solution, Ultra Electronics TCS has positioned themselves as one of the industry's SDR technology leaders," said Jeff Lamparter of Altera. "The Stratix II device family gives customers like Ultra Electronics TCS the ability to enjoy all the advantages that programmable logic brings to the table without sacrificing design security."

Combining the DSP performance and reconfigurability of Altera's Stratix II devices, Nios II processors and intelligent configuration control provided by MAX II CPLDs also allows Ultra Electronics TCS to extend the product life of the AN/GRC-512A(V). Delivering an upgraded version of the company's multichannel electronic counter-counter measure (ECCM) radio relay supporting additional waveforms can be accomplished in the field with only a firmware adjustment.

TCS designs UHF radio relay and area communications systems.

Altera supplies system-on-a-programmable-chip solutions.