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ARM, Gemalto and G&D launch Trustonic for TEE

Thursday 17 January 2013

UK microchip designer ARM Holdings launched a new JV business aimed at beefing up security on smartphones and tablets. Chip designer is investing tens of millions in Trustonic venture together with partners Gemalto and Giesecke & Devrient (G&D).


Named Trustonic, the venture joins the technology and software needed to provide a secure area within a smart mobile device named Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) that operates separately from the OS and has no interaction with the outside world, thus eliminating threats from a software virus or spyware. Trustonic aims to develop a standard banks and other businesses can use to offer secure services like mobile payments and internet shopping on a range of devices and platforms.


The venture is based on ARM’s Trustzone technology, a security extension that sits inside the silicon and can be programmed into the hardware of any smart mobile device. Gemalto and G&D provide the software in which Trustzone technology can work. Both G&D and Gemalto are already offering secure platforms based on ARM’s Trustzone technology.


One may remember that being competitors on the market, as of software for security technology, Gemalto and G&D follow two different business models. Trusted Logic, a Gemalto company, was the first to come up with software for TrustZone, which it calls Trusted Foundations (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #11-18). G&D followed with its own product, MobiCore (cf. SIW #11-09). However, while Gemalto licenses its Trusted Foundations to makers of ARM-based processors, G&D grants MobiCore to chip makers to further charge fees to service providers when they use the secure environment for applications.


US-based chip makers Texas Instruments (TI) and Qualcomm have adopted the TEE for some of their silicon, with TI licensing Trusted Foundations and Qualcomm going with MobiCore. But there are few services secured with the vendor products available to smartphone users. And while other chip makers have adopted the technology or plan to do so, most appear to be holding back, along with device makers. Now, ARM, Gemalto and G&D pick up the baton, though they have yet to disclose what business model to found their JV on (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #12-15).


For ARM, which produces microchip designs found in most tablets and mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone, the venture opens a new front against its larger rival, Intel. Although Intel dominates the overall chip market, smartphones and other handheld devices typically use ARM-based chip designs, mainly because they use less energy, allowing longer battery life.


Intel has an advantage when it comes to security, having formed partnerships with Visa and MasterCard to help secure online shopping and mobile payments. Last year it bought security-software provider McAfee for US$ 7.68 billion (EUR 5.75 billion), resulting in its DeepSafe security product that also sits below the OS.


ARM’s Trustonic venture, first announced in April 2012, was expected to get off the ground during the summer but was held up by regulatory delays in European Union (EU) and China (cf. SIW #12-46 and #12-50). ARM will hold a 40% stake with its two partners holding 30% each. ARM executive Ben Cade will head the new company with an initial staff level of around 80. Joining CEO Ben Cade are:

  • Jon Geater, Chief Technology Officer, previously Director of Technology & Division CTO, Secure Services Division at ARM;
  • Olivier Leger, Executive Vice President – Sales and Marketing, coming from Gemalto’s Trusted Logic;
  • Stephan Spitz, Executive Vice President – Engineering, coming from Giesecke & Devrient;
  • Chris Jones, Chief Operating Officer, previously VP Licensing, Processor Division at ARM.


Trustonic will be headquartered in Cambridge (UK), with offices across Asia, Europe and North America. The company has also named key industry partners at launch that included 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Cisco, Discretix, Good Technology, Inside Secure, Irdeto, MasterCard, Nvidia, Samsung Electronics, Sprint, Symantec, and Wave Systems.