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ETSI Adopts MIPI I3C Basic for Smart Secure Platform

Published on Jun 30, 2022

Earlier today, the MIPI Alliance and ETSI Technical Committee Secure Element Technologies officially announced the adoption of I3C Interface for SSP (TS 103 818)[PDF]. This formalizes the employment of the MIPI I3C Basic specification for the physical and logical link layer for the ETSI Smart Secure Platform (SSP). Check out the full press release for some additional background information regarding the ETSI SSP and what it entails. The figure below is a simple illustration of how the SSP data frames are structured within an I3C transaction, the full context and additional examples can be found in the PDF linked above. 

The diagram above is almost trivial, which perfectly highlights why I3C is a great choice for the lower layer of specialized protocols. These upper-layer protocols can take advantage of all the bus management capabilities built in to the I3C specification while avoiding the introduction of needless complexity.

At the highest level, it's great seeing I3C adoption by other standards. ETSI now joins JEDEC, which had previously adopted I3C for their JESD300-5A: SPD5118, SPD5108 Hub and Serial Presence Detect Device Standard, as standards bodies which are publishing protocols on top of I3C. Furthermore, ETSI's adoption signals another expansion of I3C's reach into another category of devices: Security & Authentication.

The Real Excitement

Now the real highlight, or at least what I personally perceive to be the most exciting part of the adoption of I3C into this domain of security and authentication devices, is embodied in this beautiful gem of a sentence buried in the middle of the press release:

Thanks to the multidrop configuration of the MIPI I3C Basic bus, the SSP will become accessible to all devices connected to the bus that can benefit from security services that the SSP may offer.

Think about that -- now these security features could be accessed directly by any other devices on the bus that would like to utilize them. This is a pretty awesome step forward in embedded system / IoT device security, built on the foundation of the I3C spec. I'm very excited to see how this manifests in real-world systems.

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