February 11, 2008 Toshiba Corporation has announced the development of a physical random-number generation circuit that generates random numbers at a data rate of 2.0 megabits a second. The newly developed random-number generator (RNG) has a circuit size of only 1,200 square micrometers but achieves the level of performance and reliability essential for integration into IC cards and mobile equipment.

The new RNG technology integrates a Toshiba-developed compact noise source device that generates a noise signal by using stochastic physical phenomenon of electrons trapped in the silicon nitride (SiN) layer of a transistor; the layer traps and releases high density electrons at a high generation rate. A compact analogue/digital (A/D) converter then effectively amplifies the analog noise signals and converts them to digital random numbers.

Hacker-proof encryption is essential for secure information transfers in financial transactions and personal information exchanges. Many encryption algorithms rely on high quality RNG that eliminate periodicity in generated numbers but existing cryptographic security technology for IC cards is based on pseudo-RNG algorithms, which is nearing its limitations as network technology advances. Toshiba’s new RNG circuit is not subject to temperature dependence, a long-standing reliability issue for physical RNG, with experimental tests in a range from -50 to 100° centigrade showing that the generated numbers are not affected by temperature. This verifies the possibility of stable generation of random numbers under the temperature conditions in which IC cards and mobile equipment are used. Toshiba is also laying claim to the world’s highest performance random number generation rate per area with the entire RNG circuit area measuring just 1,200 square micrometers, including the noise source device - this is 86.6% smaller than the next smallest physical RNG circuit yet announced.

For further info visit Toshiba.

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