Arm has announced the launch of the first silicon supporting the research project, Morello prototype architecture, led by Arm, Microsoft, the University of Cambridge, and other industry leaders. It is now available on a limited run of demonstration boards which will be shipped to industry partners and major stakeholders including Microsoft and Google for testing from today, through the UKRI Digital Security by Design (DSbD) initiative.
Microsoft's Director of Enterprise and OS Security, David Weston stated:
Memory safety exploits are one of the longest standing and most challenging problems in all of software security. Using core silicon architecture to eliminate whole classes of security issues with minimal performance impact has the opportunity to be transformative with massive positive impact, I am incredibly excited about the Morello project.
The Morello program plans on developing a "new, inherently more secure, Arm-based computing platform for the future." Morello is the first high-performance implementation of the CHERI extensions. CHERI offers fine-grained spatial memory safety at a hardware level. Software developers and security specialists will now be able to employ the Morello architecture to exhibit the improved security that can be attained with hardware capabilities.
Principal Engineer, Security, Google Research, Ben Laurie stated:
Computers are incredibly useful but the price we pay for that utility is more and more exposure to security and privacy issues. CHERI can allow for better, more cost-effective protection without reduced performance and Arm's Morello prototype can help mitigate security issues showing the way to a better future for all computer users - in other words, pretty much everyone.
The limited-edition boards are based on the Morello prototype architecture integrated into an Armv8.2-A processor, which is an adaptation of the Arm Neoverse N1 processor. The Morello prototype board will allow researchers to assess security advantages in real-world scenarios, by offering new opportunities.
For more information on the Morello program and evaluation boards, Innovate UK will hold launch bootcamps, beginning with a launch webinar on the 25th of January.