A major challenge associated with the security of chips is that design companies are continuing to lose control over manufacturing operations because the high-volume fabrication of chips with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technologies is being transferred to foundries of other companies around the globe. This shift has led to critical security concerns because of the risk of malicious circuits being inserted during the fabrication process. Needed are novel methods of verifying every chip received from a manufacturer. Diverse approaches are emerging to detect harmful circuits that can leak information, manipulate information, or deactivate a chip. Many of these techniques involve measurements of power dissipation with external test equipment to identify the presence of maliciously inserted circuits. 
Technology Overview
In this invention, the described method avoids external measurement equipment through an on-chip detection system. Small on-chip temperature sensors throughout the chip are used to sense power dissipation in nearby circuits, thereby revealing the activity of any circuits that were added without the consent of designers. Standard auxiliary on-chip circuits can process the sensor output signals and convert the information into the digital domain for further analysis. 
- The DC output voltages of the temperature sensors can be converted with standard analog-to-digital converters on the chip, allowing to detect the power dissipation of Trojan circuits with standard on-chip digital control circuits
- The on-chip detection system circumvents the need and cost of external measurement equipment, which can also enable periodic checking throughout the lifetime of a chip
- The temperature sensors can be placed into unused areas of a chip at the end of the design cycle, minimizing the area overhead and impact on the design flow
- Microprocessors
- Analog signal processing chips
- Mixed-signal processing chips
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Marvin Onabajo
Yong-Bin Kim