As the world becomes increasingly connected, with everyday items from cellphones to smart home appliances linked to the cloud, the need for robust security measures at the chip level is becoming more critical. In response to this need, Microchip Technology (Nasdaq: MCHP) has introduced the PIC18-Q24 Family of Microcontrollers (MCUs), designed to offer advanced security features for firmware and data protection against a range of security threats.
Enhanced Code Protection with PDID Feature
The PIC18-Q24 MCUs are equipped with the Programming and Debugging Interface Disable (PDID) feature. This feature is a significant advancement in code protection, effectively locking out unauthorized access to the programming/debugging interface and thwarting attempts to read, modify, or erase firmware. As explained by Greg Robinson, corporate vice president of Microchip’s 8-bit MCU business unit, this feature ensures that even programmable components within a system have robust protection against potential cyberattacks.
Multi-Voltage I/O for Diverse System Integration
To facilitate connectivity with various sensors, memory chips, and processors, the PIC18-Q24 MCUs include the Multi-Voltage I/O (MVIO) feature. MVIO enables the MCUs to interface with digital inputs or outputs operating at different voltages, eliminating the need for external level shifters. This feature not only simplifies board design and reduces Bill of Material (BOM) costs but also positions the PIC18-Q24 MCUs as ideal system management processors. They can perform monitoring and telemetry tasks, which are often the most susceptible to hacking attempts in embedded systems.
Immutable Bootloader Option for Secure Firmware Upgrades
The PIC18-Q24 family also offers the option of an immutable bootloader, providing a secure method for firmware upgrades. This option enhances the overall security of applications using these MCUs, further reinforcing their role in safeguarding connected systems.
Comprehensive Development Support
Microchip’s PIC18-Q24 MCUs are fully supported by the company’s extensive development ecosystem, including integration with the MPLAB® Code Configurator (MCC). The PIC18F56Q24 Curiosity Nano Evaluation Kit (EV01E86A) provides complete support for designing with the PIC18-Q24 family. This robust development support facilitates a seamless embedded development experience and accelerates time to market for products incorporating these MCUs.
Impact on the Semiconductor Industry
The launch of the PIC18-Q24 family by Microchip Technology represents a significant step forward in addressing the security challenges of the increasingly connected world. By embedding advanced security features directly into the MCUs, Microchip ensures that connected devices, from consumer electronics to industrial systems, can defend against evolving cyber threats, thus enhancing the overall security and reliability of these systems.