Prudence Pitch

11:07 07/11/2019 |

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Google describes OpenTitan as the first open source silicon root of trust (RoT) project

(Tech) OpenTitan is a set of design and integration guidelines for use in server motherboards, network cards, laptops, phones, consumer routers, IoT devices, and so on. The project is managed by lowRISC, an independent not-for-profit company based in Cambridge, and partners ETH Zurich, G+D, Google, Nuvoton, and Western Digital. By open-sourcing the silicon design, the companies hope OpenTitan will be more transparent, trustworthy, and secure.



Root of Trust (RoT) is a source that can always be trusted within a cryptographic system. As the name implies, OpenTitan is inspired by Google’s custom-made RoT chip, Titan, which is used to verify that Google’s datacenters boot from a known trustworthy state with verified code. Google and its partners want to spread the benefits of RoT chips to their customers using open source silicon.

Google argues that open source silicon is like open source software and can enhance trust and security through design and implementation transparency. The hope is that it will enable and encourage innovation. An open reference design could also provide implementation choice while preserving a set of common interfaces and software compatibility guarantees.

OpenTitan’s engineers are currently building the logical design of a silicon RoT. So far, that includes an open source microprocessor, cryptographic coprocessors, a hardware random number generator, a sophisticated key hierarchy, memory hierarchies for volatile and non-volatile storage, defensive mechanisms, IO peripherals, secure boot, and more. You can see the progress on GitHub.

The group expects OpenTitan will be helpful for chip manufacturers, platform providers, and security-conscious enterprise organizations. That’s the hope anyway. Google and its partners declined to provide a launch date.


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