Swissbit, which was created through a management buyout from Siemens Semiconductor in 2001, is the only independent and European supplier of flash-memory products. By integrating its core competencies of data storage, security, and 3D packaging technologies, the company has established a new business unit, Embedded IoT, eyeing the huge opportunities driven by the growing digitization and networking of devices across the Internet of Things.
Embracing the IoT Era
As a manufacturer of high quality, real industrial-grade flash storage systems, Swissbit has always taken pride in its ability to store data securely and provide a long storage life.
When asked why the new business unit is established, Silvio Muschter, CEO of Swissbit, explains, "For almost ten years, we have integrated safety functions into our products. Initially, it was SD and microSD cards with integrated encryption software to prevent eavesdropping on mobile phones and data protection-compliant memory modules for police bodycams."
"Then we asked ourselves a question: are these memory cards with a security solution, or a security solution in the form of a memory card?"
It turns out that a right question triggered a change of perspective, which helps Swissbit open up a whole new world of applications and move into a much bigger playing field of IoT.
He stresses that the increasing digitization and networking of devices is dramatically increasing the pressure for protection of data and devices, and therefore driving the demand for intelligent security products for embedded IoT solutions.
"In the future, the most valuable commodity will be data. At Swissbit, we see it as our mission to reliably store and protect this data," Silvio says.
Easy to use, hardware-based security products
In the industrial IoT sector, key issue for customers is: how to protect data and the IP of machines and devices, as well as communication with the cloud.
From Swissbit's perspective the question is: how does a 'thing' know that the received data or data queries from another 'thing' are correct, and that the source of a message is really the system component that it claims to be?
In order to answer that question and bring real industrial-grade security to IoT systems, Swissbit has developed the hardware-based solutions to ensure that machines can uniquely authenticate themselves in machine-to-machine communication (M2M) via a Secure Element.
Silvio explains, by building Secure Elements into memory cards, systems can have non-cloneable identities and become uniquely identifiable M2M communication participants capable of authenticating and sending and receiving cryptographically secure data.
Therefore, Swissbit Embedded IoT solutions can be used as a tamper-proof ID card in the networked device such that networked systems can be protected against misuse and 'identity theft' in the future.
With years of experiences in developing security products, Swissbit is able to develop and offer customer-specific and application-specific solutions.
A recent example is fiscalization: In Germany, cash registers must be equipped with a certified technical safety device (TSE), which includes a certificate as well as a secure element for tamper-proof recording of cash register data. Swissbit offers the first certified and retrofittable solution in microSD card, SD card and USB stick form factors.
In fact, alongside custom security solutions, this year Swissbit will also release standard security products with a flash memory as a microSD card and USB stick. These can be used in a wide range of IoT devices, such as video surveillance, telecommunications, automotive technology (e.g. autonomous driving), medical and fiscalization applications, where the recorded data as well as access to the stored data can be protected.
"Our approach to securing data and communication is particularly compelling," says he. "Especially, where it's not simply a case of networks of completely new machines, but where existing systems need to be retrofitted. Here, our approach offers unprecedented flexibility."
New plant to help boost new business
In addition to storage and security, Silvio emphasizes that 3D packaging is also one of the company's core competences.
At the end of 2019, Swissbit opened its new plant in Berlin, with more than 20,000 square meters of land. This triples its production capacities for highly integrated system-in-package devices.
"At our Berlin plant in Germany, we provide state-of-the-art production capacities – from SMT lines to bonding to 3D packaging. We will use these capacities for our own products and, if customer demand requires, also integrate further functionalities into storage solutions or offer customer-specific form factors."
It means that, in addition to storage and safety functions, Swissbit may further integrate additional sensors and radio modules to expand the application possibilities of its Embedded IoT products.
"The key message is that, we can offer very flexible development and manufacturing services to meet customers' specific requirements for their IoT applications. With the new plant in Berlin, we are optimally equipped for this."
Expanding operations in Taiwan
For Swissbit, its successful strategy has always been to look for niches in all of its target markets. These include industrial automation, IoT, telecommunications, automotive technology and medical technology, where small and medium-sized quantities are more likely to be in demand, and where customers value the high product quality and support services.
Silvio points out that this strategy also applies to our activities in Taiwan and China. With presence in Taiwan for almost 10 years, Swissbit has expanded its operations in Taiwan last year, aiming to offer innovative and robust IoT solutions to customers in Asia and support them comprehensively throughout the entire product life cycle.
"One of our unique advantages particularly for our customers in Taiwan and China is that for security applications. Especially for those companies that sell their products to key export markets such as Europe and North America," Silvio stresses.
He is optimistic that with Swissbit's comprehensive support network, modular hardware security and close cooperation with local partners as well as regulatory and certification authorities, Swissbit sees itself as a solutions partner to help customers enter these markets.
"The market for tamper-proof POS systems in Germany or the market for industrial and building automation for manufacturers of edge computing are perfect examples," Silvio indicates. "We look forward to cooperating with local makers more closely to create a win-win situation for both sides by expanding IoT security market together."
Silvio Muschter, CEO of Swissbit
Swissbit provides a wide range of security products to add HW-based security to your IoT system
Swissbit offers the full portolio of SSDs, storage cards and USB products in all common NAND technologies, with real industrial-grade high quality
With advanced 3D packaging technology, Swissbit also provides flexible development and manufacturing services to meet customers' specific needs
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