Optimizing Chip Portfolio via Robust Soft SKUs

Problem: Traditional Security Approaches Require Expensive, Complex Hardwired SKU Implementations

Semiconductor manufacturers want to differentiate with a diverse set of high-value hardware and software IP support (e.g. AI, DSP, computer vision, robot control) from ecosystem partners. IP providers want their innovation to proliferate on a maximum of authorized devices, be fairly paid royalties, and to be protected from IP theft.

In order for semiconductor manufacturers to monetize a breadth of ecosystem IP options, they offer hardware-based step-up SKUs implemented via OTP/wire bond-out/die-specific approaches. This approach comes with enormous chip manufacturing and inventory management challenges, from one extreme of excess inventory write-offs to the other of missing out on sudden market upswings; in all such cases, an unpleasant ROI for all.

Semiconductor manufacturers can greatly benefit from a software-based enabling mechanism that would drastically reduce their manufacturing complexity. The crippling drawback of a software approach has been the weak security mechanism; for example, it can be relatively easily reverse engineered in a BORE (break once, repeat everywhere) attack.

A pure “Soft SKU” concept can be realized with SRAM PUF, which delivers a secure, hardware-based IP enablement capability with a software-like flexibility mechanism. With this approach, a specific chip with this Soft SKU implementation can offer a portfolio of products with the best of both worlds…protection and accountability required by IP vendors, as well as a far simpler logistics flow for semiconductor manufacturers and their supply chain. This capability can power a secure Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) business model to upsell the feature set, even when the device is in the field. And finally, Soft SKUs can help semiconductor manufacturers cost-efficiently realize customer-specific SKU marketing opportunities.


Traditional Hardware Approach

Different SKUs have variations of hardware/firmware IP inside the chip


Soft SKUs Based on SRAM PUF

Hardware-level activation with the convenience of Software

  • Custom personalization at CM/OEM/in the field
  • More combinations


Power Soft SKU Security Architecture with