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Tropic Square’s initial testing of their first batch of prototype chips moves them one step closer to production

February 20, 2023
Press Release

Prague, Czech Republic February 16, 2023 – The Czech startup, Tropic Square, has been testing in Prague TROPIC01, their first auditable and transparent chips. These prototypes arrived from UMC, the Taiwanese production company, in December of last year and further testing of these Secure Element chips are set to continue in the first half of 2023. The initial test results are very positive and have already shown that the chip development can continue as originally planned – to produce a second prototype next year and then, after verification, start mass serial production.

The new chip is based on open source philosophy. Its principles initiated the company’s pursuit of a chip designed with maximal transparency and consequently make it possible for the customers to verify its safety. The ability to audit should then become a standard in device security, for example in IoT or consumer electronics. The first device to demonstrate this standard will be the new generation of the Trezor crypto wallets, which are produced by Tropic Square’s parent company, SatoshiLabs.

"I am very proud of the team for having managed to complete the first production run of the prototypes and having concrete results from the evaluation. This brings us substantially closer to mass production and closer to the introduction of the first transparent solution. These chips will then have the chance to fundamentally change the current security standards in the market," says Evzen Englberth, CEO of Tropic Square.

"We are moving into the next major stage of TROPIC01 development. In the coming months, we will be testing in the lab to make sure the chip is truly secure and meets our security requirements. This applies both to encryption and the physical attacks that a hacker can launch if they get their hands on a device with our chip embedded. Examining and vetting the chip from every possible angle will help ensure the quality and reliability of the final product that goes out into the world. First and foremost, we need to meet the requirements of Trezor. Having said that, we are looking forward to demonstrating our chip with other company use cases as well." said Jan Pleskač, CTO of Tropic Square.

TROPIC01 chips as a security standard not only in cryptography.

Secure hardware chips are specialized and designed to store and process sensitive information in a secure manner. They are generally used to store and generate cryptographic keys that are used in cryptographic algorithms implemented on the same chip. TROPIC01 (TRuly OPen Integrated Circuit) chips are designed to be resistant to physical, fault injection, and side-channel attacks – a type of method used to expose sensitive data while the chip performs normal functions.

Using secure hardware chips in crypto wallets helps protect the data stored in the device from unauthorized access and other security threats. A secure chip can provide an additional layer of security beyond traditional software security measures, such as password protection. For many companies, this is an effective way to increase the security of their devices.

Debugging and Cooperation with Partners

Tropic Square has been working with their partners, experts and potential customers to get feedback on their design. The startup has development kits at its disposal that allows detailed testing of individual functional blocks – including technologies from their external suppliers (i.e. 3rd party IP cores). Next year, they want to make the final pre-production prototypes, then start mass production and launch their product on the market in 2025.

"We didn’t encounter any fundamental design problem, so we can focus on finalizing the design for the next prototype. At the same time we will continue to analyze and test in depth our current prototypes. Considering that we have a working prototype from the first attempt by a new team and with new partnerships, we consider this a big success. Though we are still remaining cautious." concludes Jan Pleskač.

About Tropic Square

Tropic Square is a private company founded in 2020 as a response to the lack of secure element chips with an open architecture in the market. It was founded by Evžen Englberth and Jan Pleskač together with SatoshiLabs. They built a team in Prague, in which they continue to expand with other experts in the field. The philosophy of their developing product is independence and transparency – a trend that started around thirty years ago, but has not yet reached the world of chip design. The two founders are now trying to change the chip industry by refusing to base its security on the secrecy of the technical details. Instead, they will have the strength of their encryption be tested by experts and the open source community. Their goal is to bring customers an auditable chip that meets high security requirements and at the same time be verifiable by anyone. The development of the first generation secure chip is currently under the working name TROPIC01 (TRuly OPen Integrated Circuit).

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