SatoshiLabs, the successful group of startups most well-known for Trezor, the world's first Bitcoin hardware wallet, announced the establishment of Tropic Square this spring. This company attracted attention with its intention to create the very first fully-auditable and transparent secure chip. After a successful period of market research, including a feasibility study, the company is moving forward onto the next phase - development. A prototype of the chip should be available at the end of 2021. The working name for the chip is TASSIC - Transparent Authenticated Secure Storage Integrated Circuit.
In 2018, the size of the secure element chip market was estimated to be 3.3 billion US dollars, and it continues to grow. Historically, these chips are built on the concept of proprietary ownership and non-transparency. From the users’ point of view, this requires trust in a third party, without knowing details about implementation and no possibility to check the security of the system built on the chip. Even though this is common practice in security chips nowadays, it is hardly good practice, neither now nor in the future.
Security experts have been calling for an open and transparent, ideally open-source solution for a long time. Fully-auditable chips will bring far higher standards of security, without the need to blindly trust producers’ claims.
“When we were looking for the best chip solution for SatoshiLabs and their Trezor hardware wallets, we knew we would need a fully auditable and transparent chip, but we wanted to make sure that our solution would also be useful to other industries, not just crypto. After many meetings, we know that a fully-auditable and open chip is important wherever the end user needs to know details about the implementation, to be able to assess its security.” said Evžen Englberth, co-founder and CEO of Tropic Square.
Tropic Square is working on a solution that will bring an auditable implementation of security algorithms to the market. The TASSIC chip, thanks to its dedication to solving the basic needs of digital security, will be especially helpful where there is a need for real security, a unique device identity, and cryptographically strong security and authentication of communications. This is largely in IoT and Industry 4.0, but also in many other special applications which require transparency. There is also market potential in common end-user electronics, where new legislation may require that data be stored securely.
At the moment, we are in the process of creating a functioning prototype, which will introduce the basic chip functions, and fine-tune the communication protocol between the chip and control processor. Last, but not least, it should also allow application software development to take place, much sooner than the time when an actual test chip will be available.
“Transparency and open-source are the main ideals we are building upon. We are producing the chip prototype on a programmable circuit FPGA from Lattice, a company well-known in the developer community. The final product, however, will be chip based on our design - ASIC - but programmable circuits are ideal for testing the chip before producing the test chip itself. At this moment, we are taking steps to complete a fully functional prototype, and are moving into the full R&D process at the beginning of 2021.” said Jan Pleskač, CTO of Tropic Square
TASSIC is designed to connect to common microprocessors or FPGA circuits using standard serial protocols. The combination of the TASSIC chip as a security enhancement for common non-secure controllers and firmware creates a platform for creation of security systems. TASSIC is also a great solution for solving security issues present in existing products.
At present, Tropic Square is completely self-funded and is open to discussion with interested parties about investing in the company's development.
Due to the size of the market and the technical complexity of chip development, the goal is to obtain an investment of EUR 4 million. For more information about the investment plan and in case of interest, please contact [email protected]