Google to help build open source, highly secure chips

San Francisco: At a time when hackers develop sophisticated tools to perpetrate nation-state cyber attacks, Google along with its partners on Tuesday announced a new project to build open source, ultra secure chips.

Called “OpenTitan,” the first-ever open source silicon root of trust (RoT) project will help deliver high-quality chip design for use in data center servers, storage, smartphones and more.

“Open sourcing the silicon design makes it more transparent, trustworthy, and ultimately, secure,” Royal Hansen, Vice President, Google, said in a statement.

The silicon RoT technology can be used in server motherboards, network cards, client devices (like laptops, phones), consumer routers and IoT devices.

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For example, Google has relied on a custom-made RoT chip, Titan, to help ensure that machines in Google’s data centres boot from a known trustworthy state with verified code.

“Together with our partners, we want to spread the benefits of reliable silicon RoT chips to our customers and the rest of the industry. We believe that the best way to accomplish that is through open source silicon,” added Rizzo, OpenTitan Lead, Google Cloud.

The OpenTitan project is managed by the lowRISC, an independent not-for-profit company, and is supported by a coalition partners, including ETH Zurich, G+D Mobile Security, Google, Nuvoton Technology, and Western Digital.

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OpenTitan will be helpful for chip manufacturers, platform providers, and security-conscious enterprise organisations that want to enhance their infrastructure with silicon-based security, said Google.

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