Electronicdesign 4749 Xl 63279 Tab2

Controller Bridges USB Disk Connection Securely

July 8, 2011
Secure hard disks command a premium but they are not the only way to get hardware encryption. The approach taken by eNova is to put their secure controller inline with the SATA connection.

X-Wall DX architecture

Storage systems are getting more complex (see The Storage Hierarchy Gets More Complex) and the need for secure storage is also becoming more important. Secure hard drives like Seagate's Constellation 2 (see 2.5-in Terabyte Hard Drive Secures Secrets) provide encryption support but at a premium price. Hardware encryption support can also be added to the controller.

The X-Wall DX chip from eNova allows its encryption support to be used with any USB controller. It does this by sitting in between a USB drive and a USB controller (Fig. 1). It is a pair of USB interfaces, one for the drive and one for the controller. The chip uses 128-, 192- and 256-bit AES encryption.

The approach has many advantages. First, it works with any USB compatible drive and USB controller. Second, it operates at high speed USB rates. Finally, once configured, full disk encryption services are provided transparently.

The chips come in an 7mm by 7mm 48-pin QFP package. The system supports Windows XP and Windows 7. Android and MAC support will be available in the future.

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