Implementing Safety and Security Features in Car Chip Design

Cars contain more chips than before

Over the past decades, the use of electronic components in cars has increased dramatically. While in 1970, electronics made up only five percent of the total car, this share rose to 35 percent in 2010. An average electric car of today contains up to 3500 chips. It is almost 22 times more chips than a smartphone, 160 chips. (Source: European Council of the European Union). Moreover, cars are equipped with electronic systems that make our cars more advanced, and comfortable than ever before. Besides, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), car components can communicate with one another, as well as with other cars and devices. This creates a network of connected vehicles bringing new possibilities.

Chips Safety and security

Nevertheless, as electronics components became more widely used in vehicles in the last decade, their defects became more common as well. According to Statista, between 2009 and 2019, the number of vehicles recalled worldwide due to electronic components defects almost tripled. In 2019, nearly 15 million vehicles were recalled from the global market. Around 6.3 million of the vehicles withdrawn from the market were recalled due to software remedy issues. (Source: Statista) Consequently, more and more attention is paid to safety and security of nowadays automobiles.

Safety and security features in chip designs

When designing car chips, safety features are implemented. In the graphic below we see an increase in the number of IC/ASIC projects working under one of the multiple safety-critical development process standards or guidelines. (Source: Wilson Research Group) Within 2 years the need for safety critical design increased from 42 percent to 44 percent.

Safety critical designs by Wilson research - safety and security

The more complex the cars become, the more vulnerabilities that can be exploited to hack a car.

That is why many projects are also  implementing security features in their designs. Examples of security features include security assurance hardware modules (e.g., a security controller) that are designed to safely hold sensitive data, such as encryption keys, digital right management (DRM) keys, passwords, and biometrics reference data. These security features add requirements and complexity to the verification process. (Source: Wilson Research Group)

Chips design security features - safety and security

For those projects working under a safety-critical development process standard there is a specific breakdown for the various standards within this group. ISO 26262 safety standard for automotive makes 63 percent, the most safety-critical industry. (see the graphic below). It shows the complexity of automotive safety and the need to work harder to reach these standards and provide secure automobiles for everybody. (Source: Wilson Research Group)

Safety critical design projects - safety and security


In conclusion, the automotive semiconductor market has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. It is driven by advancements in vehicle technology and the increasing demand for safety and security features in automobiles. One of the most significant trends in this market is the emphasis on safety and security. With the proliferation of electronic control units (ECUs) and interconnected systems within modern vehicles, ensuring the safety and security of these components has become paramount. Automotive manufacturers and semiconductor companies are investing heavily in developing robust safety measures and cybersecurity protocols. It is done to protect vehicles from potential cyber threats and ensure passenger safety.

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Optima Launches High-Performance, Pre-Silicon Semiconductor Security Verification Solution

NAZARETH, ISRAEL, June 30, 2022 — Optima Design Automation, a leader in next-generation functional safety and IC-security verification, today announced its new hardware security verification solution, Optima-SEC™. Optima-SEC™ enables the high-performance pre-silicon verification of fault injection attacks and certifies the counter-measures adopted against such attacks that target the extraction of secret information from semiconductors leveraging side-channel effects. Optima-SEC™ to be showcased at the Design Automation Conference (DAC59 – 2022).

Optima-SEC™ is a next-generation platform for IC-Security countermeasure verification and vulnerability analysis. With Optima-SEC™, security verification is highly automated and accelerated during silicon development prior to fabrication. Today most security verification is performed after silicon fabrication,  late in the semiconductor design cycle, which results in low visibility and high-costs for correcting vulnerabilities. Read more