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Bare Metal Programming

As the need for safety and security grows across application areas such as automotive, industrial, and in the cloud, the semiconductor industry is searching for the best ways to protect these systems. The big question is whether it is better to build security and safety into hardware, into software, or both.

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“You are looking at the unknown use cases, and most of functional verification is built with use cases,” Sergio Marchese, technical marketing manager at OneSpin Solutions. “I once found a bug in an Arm core. The instruction was being marked as valid, when it was not. The designer who is, of course, very, very busy tells me this is a crazy scenario that is not going to happen. ‘This is not the recommended use case. It’s not something that a normal human being would use, so it’s safe. I don’t have time to deal with this. I need to fix bugs that are gonna mess up my use cases.’ But when it comes to security, let’s say this kind of bug leaks. It could potentially lead to a vulnerability, because that’s exactly what an adversary is looking for. The adversary is looking not for normal use cases. It’s looking for funny things that can compromise the security of the chip. So that’s one aspect of it security. Then I think in terms of problems, and there are two categories. One is security itself, which means, ‘Let’s say, we’ll never build this through genuine mistakes, so to speak, or mistakes that can be at the architecture level, at the implementation level, functional bugs, whatever.’ And then there are vulnerabilities perhaps due to malicious mistakes.”

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