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zeroRISC, Nuvoton and Winbond join forces

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zeroRISC and Nuvoton Technology, an affiliate of Winbond Electronics, have announced the availability of what they say is the first open-source, commercial chip built on the OpenTitan secure silicon design.

The new chip brings truly trustworthy secure silicon capable of serving as a root of trust (RoT) to the marketplace and is being made commercially available via early access through a partnership with Nuvoton and Winbond.

“By partnering with Nuvoton, Winbond and other coalition partners to produce the first commercial-grade open-source chip in the world, we’re delivering on the promise of the OpenTitan project and democratizing access to open, trustworthy foundational security.”

This release is in conjunction with the recent historic announcement by lowRISC and the OpenTitan coalition as the first open-source silicon design to reach commercial availability. Since its inception in 2018, zeroRISC, Nuvoton and Winbond have worked closely within the OpenTitan project to develop and ensure the success of the project's first-of-its-kind silicon-proven design.

“Until now, nearly all connected devices have been built without true foundational security and so are open to stealthy cyberattacks both in the silicon supply chain and after deployment in the field,” said Dominic Rizzo, founder and CEO of zeroRISC. “By partnering with Nuvoton, Winbond and other coalition partners to produce the first commercial-grade open-source chip in the world, we’re delivering on the promise of the OpenTitan project and democratizing access to open, trustworthy foundational security.”

While conventional security starts at the operating system (OS) layer, the most sophisticated, pernicious and stealthy cyberattacks target the firmware layer below it and the hardware on which it runs. As such, truly trustworthy security must start below the OS with secure silicon like OpenTitan® and secure-by-design firmware. Since its founding in April 2023, zeroRISC has focused on open-source development of production-quality OpenTitan-based discrete secure chips as well as secure silicon subsystems that are easily integrated into third-party systems on a chip (SoCs) and chiplets.

In partnership with Nuvoton, zeroRISC makes the discrete OpenTitan® chip commercially available to key markets such as Internet of Things (IoT) and critical infrastructure via an early access program. The chip is based on the “Earl Grey” OpenTitan discrete chip design that achieved tapeout in mid-2023 and will play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of devices ranging from motherboards and network cards to laptops, phones, and IoT platforms. It serves as the foundation for security services and brings the ready-made benefits of a hardware RoT to these devices.

“Open, trustworthy foundational security has become a ‘must-have,’ not a ‘nice-to-have,’” said Erez Naory, VP of Client and Security Products at Nuvoton. “As a leader in providing best-in-class security IC solutions, our focus in working with zeroRISC and the OpenTitan coalition has been to bring value to our customers through an open-source hardware approach. We’re proud to jointly deliver this to the market today through the first commercial-grade open-source chip.”

Beyond the commercial availability of the discrete chip, Winbond and zeroRISC are actively engaged with the OpenTitan coalition on the joint development of the first OpenTitan-based integrated secure execution environment (SEE). Scheduled for production release later this year, the integrated SEE underscores the coalition’s shared commitment to advancing transparency and trustworthiness in silicon. Additionally, Winbond and zeroRISC are working closely to introduce the integrated OpenTitan SEE equipped with comprehensive support for secure external flash.

"As the worldwide leading supplier in the code storage Flash memory, ensuring the security of the supply chain and transparency and trustworthiness of our Secure Flash products is paramount to us,” said Tung-Yi Chan, Vice Chairman and Deputy CEO at Winbond. “Our early involvement in the OpenTitan project underscores our commitment to advancing open silicon initiatives, recognizing their potential to revolutionize the secure hardware industry. We take great pride in being a core member of this groundbreaking project that produced the first commercially available open-source chip, paving the way for future integrated secure solutions.”

zeroRISC has found a way to democratize silicon security with the launch of this new commercial chip, according to TIRIAS Research Founder and Principal Analyst Jim McGregor. “As more sophisticated threat actors increasingly target critical infrastructure, firmware and the supply chain, zeroRISC can better protect billions of connected devices with stronger security that begins below the operating system, bolstered by hardware root of trust technology. This comes at a time when widespread global regulation – including the Biden-Harris Cybersecurity Strategy and the Cyber Resilience Act – highlight vendor responsibility and liability in the event of escalating cyber attacks and breaches,” said McGregor.

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