6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 13, 2015 12:12 PM by user_14586677

    PSoC and IP Protection?

    petar.petrov

      I've just realised something about PSoC chips, that they are better than regular UMCs at protecting Intelectual Property ! Or are they? Really interested to hear your opinion on the matter.

         

      The way I see it, it is a hradware definied by sofware. So, looked from outside, it is harder to reverse engineer setups with PSoC since you have no idea whetehr a pin is in/out , digital/analog etc. You can always infer by inspecting what type of periphery it interface with I guess...

         

      However as far as logic/purpose of a particular chip goes, how easy is to get that from let's say having a PSOC programmer and fetching the code from the chip? Is it possible to disable read once a design and purpose is fixed ???

         

      I can only guess it must be hard, considering you might need propriatary cypress internal documentation, but far from impossible?

        • 1. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
          user_1377889

          The definition of a PSoC system consists of two different sets of data:

             

          1st the hardware definitions as pins, component settings, wires etc.

             

          2nd the software accessing the defined hardware.

             

          Both are quite different, but are stored in the internal flash memory and as such could be red with some freely availlable tools.

             

           

             

          There are two reasons why PSoCs (may) prevent from reverse engeneering.

             

          You may block access to the PSoC's internals with a protection scheme that will allow full designed functionality but does not allow for reading back the flash contents.

             

          PSoCs are so versatile, straight forward and easy to be used that it will be less work to program a project anew compared to dis-assembling some C-optimized assembly code tying to reveal some information that are probably disussed openly in this forum.

             

          So, there is probably no need for hacking a PSoC

             

           

             

          Bob

          • 2. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
            petar.petrov

             10x Bob,

               

            could you elaborate abit on : "You may block access to the PSoC's internals with a protection scheme that will allow full designed functionality but does not allow for reading back the flash contents."

            • 3. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
              user_1377889

              You find in Creator3.1 a "Flash Security" tab in the .cydwr  view which allows you to protect the flash from reading and writing. Only a total erase command will give back the access to that area, but then the device is blank.

                 

              For PSoC3 and 5 the protection is graduaded in 4 levels, while for PSoC4 there are only two (unprotected and full protected).

                 

               

                 

              Bob

              • 4. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
                petar.petrov

                 Thanks once again,

                   

                so all I need to do is toggle to W-full protection all cells, which account for the 32K flash of psoc 42xx .

                   

                also it seems I need to do it for the bootloader and not the actual project in case you depend on bootloader.

                   

                Thanks,

                   

                Petar

                • 5. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
                  user_1377889

                  Since a Bootloader needs to access (write) into flash memory, protection would hinder a re-programming. So bootloader and protection cannot come together. In this case you need a programmer like MiniProg3, a modified Pioneer Kit or a Kitprog from a Cy8CKit-059

                     

                   

                     

                  Bob

                  • 6. Re: PSoC and IP Protection?
                    user_14586677

                    The sad news is there is never any total protection, SEMs have been

                       

                    used to hack chip code, but that is a tedious and expensive process.

                       

                     

                       

                    PSOC has current state of the art protection for firmware protection.

                       

                     

                       

                    Regards, Dana.