STMicro ST31N600 Arm SecurCore SC000 microcontroller includes biometric security, energy harvesting

Today, I’ve learned about an Arm core family I’d never heard about: the Arm SecurCore family for smartcard and embedded security applications. The Arm SecurCore SC000 (Cortex-M0 based) and Arm SecurCore SC300 (Cortex-M3 based) have been around for years, but they’ve just been brought to my attention with STMicro ST31N600 secure microcontroller announcement.

Manufactured with STMicro’s 40nm eSTM technology, the ST31N600 is designed for contact and contactless payment cards, ID cards, and transport ticketing thanks to circuitry for energy harvesting, and support for EMV ISO 7816, ISO 14443, and ISO 18092 standards.

ST31N600 SecurCore SC000 secure MCU

STMicro also introduced ST31N500 and ST31N400 microcontrollers with less flash memory, but other the same specifications as ST31N600:

  • MCU Core – Lockstep 32-bit Arm SecurCore SC000 up to 60 MHz
  • Memory – 16 KB of user RAM
  • Storage with 25-year retention, 500,000 erase/write cycle endurance
    • ST31N600 – 608 KB
    • ST31N500 – 512 KB
    • ST31N400 – 416 KB
  • RF harvesting for battery-free smartcards
  • Wireless
    • RFUART (RF universal asynchronous receiver transmitter) up to 848 kbps
    • 13.56 MHz carrier frequency
  • Contact and contactless cards standards
    • Contact assignment compatible with ISO/IEC 7816-3 standards
    • Complies with ISO/IEC 14443 Type A and Type B, and ISO/IEC 18092 Type F
    • MIFARE Plus EV1, MIFARE Classic and MIFARE DESFire EV2 hardware and software implementation
  • Peripherals
    • ISO/IEC 7816-3 asynchronous receiver transmitter (IART)
    • SPI master/slave up to 6.2 MHz, software I2C up to 400 Kbps
    • 4x GPIO
    • 3x 16-bit timers with interrupt, 1x watchdog timer
  • Security
    • Three-key Triple DES accelerator, AES accelerator
    • AIS-31 Class PTG.2, NIST SP800-22 and NIST SP800-90B compliant true random number generator (TRNG)
    • NESCRYPT lite low power (LLP) coprocessor for public key cryptography algorithm
    • ISO/IEC 13239 calculation block
  • Misc – External clock frequency up to 10 MHz
  • Power supply
    • 2.7 V to 5.5 V supply voltages
    • 1.4 V to 2.5 V external power supply generator for biometric components
    • ESD protection
  • Temperature Range – -25°C to +85°C
ST31N600 block diagram
ST31N microcontroller block diagram

The microcontroller can be programmed with Arm Keil SecurCore SC000 software development tools that include an instruction set simulator (ISS) and a C compiler.  STMicroelectronics also provides a time-accurate hardware emulator controlled by the Keil debugger and the ST development environment, as well as a product simulator based on Keil’s ISS simulator for the Arm SecurCore SC000 CPU.

More details can be found on the product page. The solution was also on display on November 30 – December 2 at Trustech 2021 in Paris, with STMicro showing a secure biometric payment based on STPay-Topaz-Bio “ready-to-use payment solution”, which the company also called a “Biometric System-on-Card (BSoC) solution”, equipped with ST31N600 MCU and an STM32L4 microcontroller embedded in an EMV (Eurocard Mastercard Visa) module.

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