Philips Semiconductors and IBM Research to Co-Develop Secure Smart Cards

Highly Secure Operating System and Processor, Suitable for Multiple Applications

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NEW YORK/EINDHOVEN, The Netherl & s - 04 Feb 1999: -- Philips Semiconductors and IBM Research today announced plans to jointly develop a new generation of multi-function smart cards that will offer the highest level of security for applications such as banking, electronic purse, medical records, secure authentication and customer loyalty programs.

The cards, based on Philips Semiconductors' SmartXA smart card processor, will incorporate a highly secure operating system and enhanced JavaCard virtual machine software being developed by IBM Research. The companies are undergoing third-party certification at high assurance levels (ITSEC or Common Criteria) for the operating system and JavaCard virtual machine software on the SmartXA hardware platform. This certification will provide added assurance that applications and information from multiple vendors are securely separated from each other.

"Combining IBM Research's advanced software with Philips Semiconductors' secure SmartXA processor will encourage greater use of smart cards worldwide," said Scott McGregor, senior vice president and general manager of Philips Semiconductors' Emerging Businesses. "Companies will be able to issue a single card that supports applications from multiple sources, knowing that an independent third party has assured that valuable information remains totally separate and secure from other companies offering services on the card."

The new IBM-Philips Semiconductors approach marks the first time that multiple smart card applications can be written in different programming languages and then loaded onto the same card after it is issued. The approach supports applications written in native assembler language,
high-level languages such as C compiled to native binary code, and interpreted languages such as Java. In addition, the software uses the strong security features of the SmartXA to provide an additional level of assurance that applications on the card cannot access any other vendor's
information, no matter by whom or in what language they are written, and regardless of when they are loaded.

"Our goal is to provide certified high assurance smart card technology to institutions that demand the highest level of validated security," said Elaine Palmer, manager of the group developing the software at IBM Research. "Working with Philips Semiconductors, we can create next-generation smart cards that will enable an ever increasing range of electronic commerce applications." Palmer added, "We chose the SmartXA processor because it is the only available smart card IC that offers high level hardware security through separate user and system modes, and a memory management unit providing hardware memory protection."

The Philips Semiconductors' SmartXA also features a smart card hardware firewall, a future-oriented 16-bit CISC processor and a state-of-the-art memory configuration. It provides approximately 30 times the performance of today's 8-bit architectures, enabling it to run software interpreters such as Java quickly and efficiently. The higher code density of 16-bit machines also enables more flexibility and performance compared to 32-bit RISC machines, which code all instructions on a 32-bit level.

IBM Research's highly secure operating system will provide the optimum link between the hardware and the enhanced JavaCard virtual machine or application software. It is an essential building block for the SmartXA architecture, as it also manages the system resources, separating and securing applications from each other. Under the agreement, IBM Research will define and publish the system interfaces and will implement this operating system and JavaCard virtual machine software for the 16-bit SmartXA. This research work builds on the Java technology partnership announced by IBM and Gemplus late last year. IBM will make this software available to its partners for evaluation and consideration in future products.

Philips Semiconductors, a division of Royal Philips Electronics, headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, is the eighth largest semiconductor supplier in the world (according to Dataquest's preliminary 1998 ranking by sales). Philips Semiconductors is a leader with a proven reputation in the development and production of cryptocontroller and contactless smart card ICs as well as in components for radio frequency identification. Philips Semiconductors' innovations in digital audio, video and mobile technology position the company as a leader in the consumer, multimedia and wireless communications markets. Sales offices are located in all major markets around the world and are supported by regional application labs. Additional information on Philips Semiconductors can be obtained by accessing its home page at

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM Research is known throughout the world for its expertise and advances in computer systems, computer applications and solutions, computer security, systems technology, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, storage and communications. More details about the technological achievements of IBM Research scientists can be found at

Java and JavaCard are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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