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New Microchip 100Mbps Ethernet Controller with Integrated Security Engine


Low-Cost ENC624J600 10/100Base-TX, MAC & PHY Ethernet Controllers Provide Cryptographic Security Hardware and Factory Preprogrammed MAC Addresses


Microchip have just released the low-cost ENC624J600 standalone, IEEE 802.3 compliant, 100 Mbps Ethernet interface controllers. These Ethernet controllers combine a 10/100Base-TX physical interface (PHY) and a Media Access Controller (MAC) with a hardware cryptographic security engine, and can connect to any PIC microcontroller via an industry-standard Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) or a flexible parallel interface. Additionally, each device has a unique, factory-preprogrammed MAC address and 24 Kbytes of configurable SRAM for packet transmit/receive buffering and data storage. This combination of speed, flexibility and features enables designers to create fast, secure network and Internet-connected embedded applications with minimized board space, cost and complexity.

Demand is on the rise for embedded applications with higher-speed data connectivity, and Ethernet is the leading networking technology. By adding Ethernet connectivity to an embedded system, microcontrollers can be used to distribute data over a network and can be controlled remotely. Ethernet's infrastructure, performance, interoperability, scalability and ease of development have made it an ideal choice for embedded communications.

Many embedded applications require added security to ensure that only the intended users can gain access to monitor and control a remote network application. The ENC624J600 controllers integrate hardware cryptographic security engines that perform RSA, Diffie-Hellman, MD5 and SHA-1 algorithm computations in support of cryptographic protocols such as SSL/TLS, SSH and various VPNs. These integrated hardware features enable secure data transmissions with reduced code size, faster connection establishment and throughput, and reduced firmware development efforts.

Each ENC624J600 controller has a unique, factory preprogrammed Ethernet MAC address, which is required for every Ethernet device. This simplifies the design and manufacturing process by eliminating the cost of buying an Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI) from the IEEE, and the time required to perform serialized MAC address programming during manufacturing.

The configurable, 24 Kbyte SRAM buffer memory provides a flexible, reliable data-management system that enables an efficient method for packet storage, retrieval and modification that reduces memory requirements for the host microcontroller.

The support of both serial SPI and flexible parallel interfaces to any host microcontroller provides maximum flexibility for end designers to balance the end-system performance vs. cost. With an SPI interface, only four pins are required to connect to the microcontroller, enabling the use of smaller MCU packages for space-constrained applications.

Microchip offers a TCP/IP stack that can be used for free with any of its 8-, 16- or 32-bit PIC microcontrollers or dsPIC digital signal controllers. The stack includes Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and a TCP/IP Configuration Wizard to simplify the configuration of Ethernet projects. Additionally, the Stack utilizes the industry-standard SSLv3 protocol to secure any TCP connection, while building in support for the HTTP Web server and SMTP e-mail client modules.

The company's Web site address is http://www.microchip.com/.
[Reprinted with kind permission from Microchip Corporation]


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