Engineers at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University have developed a tiny, low-power random number generator that can be used to improve security on data transmitted via NFC-enabled devices, according to IEEE Spectrum.
The innovation uses so-called “memristors” and resistive random-access memories (RRAM), which store memory as resistance rather than charge. With these technologies, researchers were able to develop a method of generating true random numbers through the capture and release of electrons in a silicon dioxide film. According to IEEE, this method requires less energy and space than other true random number generators.
“The natural fluctuation can’t be predicted, since it’s not generated by software or equations people come up with,” said Chrong-Jung Lin, associate professor at NTHU’s department of electrical engineering and one of the inventors. “The random codes we get from the fluctuation will never be known. This will help improve existing encryption schemes.”
The device can only generate random bits at a rate of 1 kilohertz on its own – compared to Intel’s latest model that can do 3 gigabits per second when integrated into a CPU – but can perform at 100 MHz when attached to a feedback circuit. According to the researchers, this makes the device ideal for NFC transactions and other low power applications such as car keys and ID cards.
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