Ernest Worthman of Semiconductor Engineering recently interviewed Steven Woo, a VP and distinguished inventor at Rambus. The two discussed the numerous challenges facing the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT), including security and low power sipping requirements.
As Woo points out, security and privacy are critical topics, with a significant amount of concern being expressed over potential vulnerabilities in connected cars, homes and appliances.
“There is concern that, with all the different sensors and connectivity points, each one is a potential vulnerability that has to be able to be individually locked and unlocked to outside access,” he explained.
“There is a general consensus of agreement that security is difficult and it needs to be architected in from the ground up. The infrastructure needs to be able to define and limit access to such I/O ports. Today, many products still haven’t done that.”
Essentially, says Woo, the industry is retrofitting security on top of what currently exists.
“There is concern that there still isn’t a very well thought out security architecture that has been developed as a part of the IoT infrastructure. [Nevertheless], the industry has started to intersect some of the stuff we do with the envisioned infrastructure,” he continued.
“We have done a lot of work in memory, interfaces and security. We are also working on making energy sources more efficient, while at the same time chip power requirements will drop. That is kind of where the chip community is heading.”
According to Woo, Rambus has been active in the area of port security, which he described as one of the “driving forces” behind the development of CryptoManager.
“The number of high-profile break-ins that occurred in 2014 seemed to be much higher than in previous years. And one can definitely see the impact of security, or lack thereof, come to the forefront—2015 will see increased momentum in dealing with security,” he added.
In terms of power limitations, Woo notes that future IoT devices will likely function on a single charge for an extended period of time.
“The [trend] is to push the recharge times out for months, or even years, with some of the more remote or passive sensors. The movement is to have ‘watch battery’ form factors, but there is a lot of concern how that is actually going to happen with these IoT devices spewing out so much data,” he continued.
“There [is] a lot of general concern about how one minimizes power and what is the correct type of operating model for these IoT devices to conserve power. For example, if you have a bunch of data, is it better to send it at a very low data rate, with the idea that is will consume low power, or would it be better to burst it quickly at a high data rate, occasionally, where the device is in the off state most of the time?”
Interested in learning more? The full text of “One-On-One: Steven Woo” can be read on Semiconductor Engineering here.