Broadcom Chip Offers Security for Internet of Things

The new BCM20737 SoC includes Bluetooth capabilities, encryption and decryption, and support for Apple's iBeacon technology.

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Broadcom officials are focusing on security with the latest addition to its family of chips aimed at wearable devices and the Internet of things.

The company on May 21 introduced the BCM20737 system-on-a-chip (SoC) that will leverage Bluetooth, RSA encryption and decryption capabilities, and Apple's iBeacon device detection technology to increase on-chip security and privacy capabilities for devices such as smartphones, tablets, home appliances, health care products and wearable computing devices.

The new chip will be part of Broadcom's larger Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform, which the company introduced in August 2013. It is sampling now with evaluation boards and software development kits, according to company officials.

Broadcom's newest WICED SoC comes as more attention is being paid to security around the Internet of things. The IoT refers to the growing number of systems and devices—from automobiles and manufacturing systems to wearable devices, appliances, surveillance cameras, medical systems and televisions—that are being infused with intelligence and connected to the Internet. These systems will increasingly generate and share enormous amounts of data, and offer the promise of improved lifestyles and corporate efficiencies.

However, more connected devices and more data flowing over networks means increased security concerns. During a recent summit focusing on security and the IoT, industry experts warned against letting the enthusiasm over the potential benefits from the Internet of things overshadow the security challenges it raises.

"The IoT … should raise the hackles on every neck, given our current" security situation, Dan Geer, chief information security officer for venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, said during the Security of Things Forum.

According to numbers collected by Cisco Systems, the number of connected systems will grow from 10 billion this year to 50 billion by 2020. What Cisco officials call the Internet of everything will generate $19 trillion in new revenues for businesses worldwide by 2020, and IDC analysts expect the IoT technology and services market to hit $8.9 trillion by the end of the decade.

More connected devices means a larger attack surface for cyber-criminals. Some tech vendors are beginning to turn their attention to the security issues being raised by the IoT. For example, Cisco in February announced a competition that will offer up to $300,000 in prize money to people who come up with the best IoT-related security solutions.

Broadcom officials also are talking about security, wearable devices and the Internet of things. The Bluetooth Smart Chip and the support for Apple's iBeacon technology are the latest steps the company is taking.

"By delivering top-shelf security and support for iBeacon, we are accelerating product development for our customers so that they can focus on creating the next wave of innovative applications in the evolving Internet of things ecosystem," Brian Bedrosian, senior director of embedded wireless and wireless connectivity, said in a statement.

Along with the security features, the Smart Chip also supports A4WP Rezence wireless charging, support for up to eight simultaneous master/slave connections, and a highly integrated and small ARM Cortex M3 applications processor.