back to article India ponders home-baked chips for defence and nuke plants

India is reportedly pondering a new policy that would see only home-baked silicon used in its military, space program and atomic energy industry. Sources have told the Times of India that government officials have raised the idea with representatives of the three industries mentioned above. Just why is open to speculation. …

Baking != design

Unless you actually design the chips you're potentially screwed.

Even if you design the chips, you still have to make sure that you design any IP blocks you use. It is easy enough to slip attack vectors into something like an ethernet controller.

Then of course you need to make sure you design all the software that compiles the design to gates. It would be relatively easy to sneak in attack vectors in translation software (that's how Stuxnet works).

And of course you have to make sure none of the engineers involved in any of this are above bribery - a hard ask in one of the most corrupt countries in the planet.

At this stage you might as well wrap your whole country in tinfoil and go back to a pre-digital economy.

Nope, this is just political bullshittery - trying to push for greater protectionism for local electronics.

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Re: Baking != design

"Even if you design the chips, you still have to make sure that you design any IP blocks you use. It is easy enough to slip attack vectors into something like an ethernet controller."

True.

If you're really serious about this you have to have either complete control or complete visibility of the whole chain from layout to finished hardware executing code including all links between the stages to guard against substitution of doctored data files.

If you're a government whose' studied the Snowden documents and you want to keep your secrets a secret and your hardware invulnerable you have to make a very serious investment in time and trouble to do so.

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Re: Baking != design

Not quite. You need to see the design. It doesn't need to be yours. I can imagine a completely open design that was "good enough" being favoured by many countries over a closed x86 product.

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This could actually be fairly easy on a country scale

I mean you can divide most tasks into 2 sub tasks. One is the actual work which is important, but usually doesn't take much processing power, the other is the "GUI" or "Media" stuff, which can be either safely encapsulated on a separate computer, or can be accepted as compromised as it neither has access to important data, nor data corruption can achieve anything.

So you probably can have your "work" system running on the equivalent of a 6502 or Z80 made with modern technology, talking via a secure one-way bus to a graphics subsystem displaying state of the art graphics on any random GPU. If you need things like encryption, you can augment your "6502" with a hardware AES module.

If you follow the KISS principle, you can make an actual effort in security, even with small teams. Always remember that Cray had about 2 dozens of employees back when they "mass produced" the Cray-1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtOA1vuoDgQ

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And so it starts

"the nation fears back doors in chips designed or built in the USA"

The ripples of the Snowden revelations are becoming a tidal wave of backlash against spooks in general and the USA in particular.

America will rue the day it thought it could get away with pissing on its own Constitution.

Meanwhile, money is going to flow into the security sector, electronics are going to be balkanized at the state level, and the spooks are going to have to start working IRL again, putting bugs in offices and such because eavesdropping electronically is going to get a whole lot harder when every state has its own encryption scheme and chips to power it.

We're going into a Electronic Cold War, and I see no end to that one.

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Should be cake

They could easily steal designs and technology from Intel and others in a similar fashion to the way the PRC does. The corporations that "provide " the tech. dare not complain lest their facilities be targeted for arson, inspections and workers strikes.

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Anonymous Coward

Well there is any amount of hardware out there. Most of it doing nothing most of the time, the occasional time used for watching videos or playing computer games. It would be far smarter to write code to use that hardware in some moderately efficient way. Dropping your pants and demonstrating your petaflops is misguided. There is tons of scientific and technical software that could be written but goes unwritten. Artificial evolution actually, in a very practical way is the only current form of artificial intelligence that produces human level results. Nobody takes it seriously though. It is human irrationality to be handed a human level+ AI (for engineering) and then blank out.

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