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Atmel has announced the release of a complete immobiliser protocol stack, based on the AES-128 cryptography standard, under an open-source licence.

This allows all automotive industry stakeholders to review and contribute within a defined legal framework.

‘By offering open-source capabilities, a variety of semiconductor manufacturers, tier 1 suppliers and car manufacturers can now contribute to improve the protocol while maintaining interoperability between suppliers,’ said Nicolas Schieli, senior marketing manager for car-access products, Atmel.

‘Additional features can be added by other corporate contributors to address application-specific requirements under the same licence terms,’ he added.

The Atmel AES-128 immobiliser protocol stack is the first open-source stack to allow interoperability between different semiconductor vendors, according to the company.

The immobiliser protocol stack defines all necessary layers from the physical level to the AES crypto-engine on key fob and base-station devices.

The physical layer is based on FDX (Full-Duplex), which is widely used by all established IC manufacturers for backward compatibility.

This also makes it possible for most existing base stations and key fob devices to seamlessly support this protocol stack.

Additionally, the high configurability of the protocol stack enables all critical parameters to be optimised towards specific-application requirements.

Authentication scheme (single or mutual authentication), challenge and response lengths, data rate and modulation, number of secret keys and AES computation time can all be configured to allow optimal turn-around time versus minimum coupling factor for a given application.

The protocol also specifies key learning processes that can optionally use an additional transport key to further secure the supply chain.

This mechanism allows for encrypting the initial pairing communication between the key fob and vehicle, which takes place at the car manufacturer line.

KPIT Cummins provides a production-ready implementation of this protocol for all new Atmel RKE/PEG device ranges released in 2010.

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