Infineon Technologies has confirmed it is supplying the next generation of its SLE 78 product family security controllers for the new German ID card. The German authorities have been issuing the new electronic ID in chip card format since November 1, 2010.
Infineon says it is providing a significant share of the chips for Europe’s biggest ID project. Currently, around 60 million German ID cards, which are usually valid for 10 years, are in circulation. About 6.5 million ID cards are issued each year.
The company says its Integrity Guard security technology is used in the new ID card.
“Right from the start, Infineon has played a significant role as an innovation driver in shaping the over 25-year history of the chip card. We are delighted that our new generation of security controllers are used in the German ID card. It confirms our technological expertise in government identity documents,” says Dr Helmut Gassel, president of the Chip Card & Security Division at Infineon Technologies.
According to the firm, about 80% of the electronic ID cards in Europe today contain its security controllers. By the end of 2011, 14 of the 27 EU member states will have started issuing eID cards to their citizens, with almost half of the 500 million EU citizens obtaining one within the next few years.
The SLE 78 chip has been certified by the Germany Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Infineon developed the chips in Neubiberg near Munich; they are being made in Dresden and the chip package comes from Regensburg.
The company has also launched its 90nm SOLID FLASH technology for its new generation of security ICs.
According to Infineon, with SOLID FLASH it is the first supplier worldwide of security products combining Flash with outstanding and secure contactless performance, targeting applications such as payment, government ID, high-end mobile communications and transport.
It says the flexibility of Flash technology means significant time savings and both complexity and risk reduction over the whole value chain. It claims that with its SOLID FLASH technology, customers benefit in various ways; for example, it allows fast and easy prototyping, sampling and code change through the immediate availability of hardware samples with SOLID FLASH-based security controllers. Furthermore the lead times for chip production based on forecast are reduced by more than 50% compared to mask ROM. While inventory management of the different mask ROM versions is very complex, SOLID FLASH products can be configured by the system integrators on demand and thus the storage of only a minimum variety of non-specific Flash products is required. This results in reduced planning efforts, inventory costs and risks, and a shorter time-to-market. In addition, the mask costs of ROM products will significantly increase with the migration to lower geometries like 90nm or 65nm, while minimum order quantities of ROM will rise due to increasing lot sizes.
The company says: “SOLID FLASH offers a sophisticated security concept, providing a similar security level compared to mask ROM. The functional security is ensured by a secure mask transfer, secure download and a special locking mechanism, which is realised by Infineon’s specific Flash loader and is certified together with the hardware. Infineon has also installed some architectural measures to ensure security on its products and to protect the memory against analysis and tearing. A hardware firewall separates code, data and other applications. In addition, the SOLID FLASH devices offer error correction, where 1-bit errors can be repaired. These specific security features make SOLID FLASH technology suitable even for high-security chip card applications.”