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Hello element14 -!

Posted by pjclarke Feb 20, 2011

1218115_99865682.jpgHello to element14 and  all you guys. I have finally got round to writing my first blog for this  site and rather than posting a blog about anyone subject I have decided  to introduce myself.


I live in the UK and have been doing electronics since  I was about 10years old. Electronics was not my first choice of  career however I followed what was my hobby into becoming a full time  job. I’ve worked at a number of places in my time but now work at ebm-papst UK Ltd. Most people have  never heard of them but they are a massive suppliers of fans and Farnell  are just one of thier distributors. I work as an electronics design  engineer designing controllers for our products and get involved in  fully product life cycle. That means everything from writing the  specification, circuit design, PCB layout, Prototyping, Validation  testing and all the way to seeing the first product off the production  line and into the end customer. Its a lot of work and paperwork which I  hate - hay I’m an engineer after all. I want to tinker!


The other big part of  my engineering life now includes a online life. How before I start I’m  going to point out that I’m going to comment on and link to other  communities other than element14. We as engineers all know about them so  I’m not going to hide that fact they exist and hopefully element14 will  not censor my blog for linking to them. OK back to my online life. This  started around a year ago when I was invited to Beta test the new RS  Electronics website called DesignSpark. Here I have written a  large number of blogs and reviews on  products. More importantly I have been using my Twitter account

and connecting to  other engineers and making new and exciting contacts like Jeri Ellsworth and more. However I  have now started to spread my wings and followed the advice of others  and decided to not just blog in one place. So in the last month I have  set up my own blog website. I’ve also  had the opportunity to blog on EngineerBlogs which is a collection  of great engineers and again is still new but getting great numbers of  hits.


Well that's it for my  first blog an hope you will be back to check out what I have to say. I  hope to post once a month but if you want to follow this and my other  blogs please feel free to follow me on Twitter !


Product counterfeiters are increasingly targeting chips and electronic components, with attacks on hardware modules becoming commonplace. Tailor-made security technology utilizes a component‘s individual material properties to generate a digital key. This provides components with an identity, since their unique structure cannot be copied. At this year’s embedded world Exhibition and Conference, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT will be demonstrating how electronic components or chips can be made counterfeit-proof using physical unclonable functions (PUFs). “Every component has a kind of individual fingerprint since small differences inevitably arise between components during production,” said Dominik Merli, a scientist at Fraunhofer SIT in Garching. Printed circuits, for instance, end up with minimal variations in thickness or length during the manufacturing process. While these variations do not affect functionality, they can be used to generate a unique code. A PUF module is integrated directly into a chip, a setup that is feasible not only in a large number of programmable semiconductors known as FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) but equally in hardware components such as microchips and smartcards. “At its heart is a measuring circuit, for instance a ring oscillator. This oscillator generates a characteristic clock signal which allows the chip‘s precise material properties to be determined. Special electronic circuits then read these measurement data and generate the component-specific key from the data”, explains Merli. Unlike conventional cryptographic processes, the secret key is not stored on the hardware but is regenerated as and when required. Since the code relates directly to the system properties at any given point in time, it is virtually impossible to extract and clone it. Invasive attacks on the chip would alter physical parameters, thus distorting or destroying the unique structure. The Garching-based researchers have already developed two prototypes: A butterfly PUF and a ring oscillator PUF. At present, these modules are being optimized for practical applications.

How long until this counterfeit measure is broken? Not long, I'm sure.


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