Western Digital Collaborates With lowRISC and Google to Increase Security Transparency in Data-Centric Platforms

OpenTitan Open-Source Project Aims to Deliver Silicon ‘Root of Trust’ Chips for Integration from the Data Center to the Edge

SAN JOSE, CA - November 05, 2019

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) today announced that it has teamed up with lowRISC, Google and a coalition of partners in support of OpenTitan, the first open-source project building transparent, high-quality reference design and integration guidelines for silicon root of trust (RoT) chips that can be used in data storage, compute, and other hardware platforms. Leveraging the company's expertise in data infrastructure and open-source technologies, Western Digital is working with ecosystem partners to optimize the OpenTitan framework to meet the diverse security demands of data-centric storage use cases from the core to the edge, including machine-learning applications, smartphones and connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The OpenTitan project was established with the belief that the ability to understand, inspect and verify a device from the chip to the application is critical in data security. As it's open, adopters of the new OpenTitan framework can now review, audit and contribute to OpenTitan's register-transfer level (RTL) reference design, firmware and integration guidelines. This transparency will help to create more secure RoT solutions and enable continued innovation.

"As the volume and value of data continues to grow exponentially, so does the need to keep that data safe and secure," said Dr. Richard New, vice president of research and development at Western Digital. "OpenTitan leverages the power and transparency of the open-source development model to enable root of trust chips that can be fully inspected and verified, thereby providing strong security against malware, physical hardware modifications and other threats. Our work with the OpenTitan project, and ongoing collaboration with the open-source community and security ecosystem, furthers our commitment to accelerating the development of more secure data infrastructure as we move into the zettabyte era."

As part of the company's ongoing participation in the OpenTitan project, Western Digital is collaborating with lowRISC, Google and others to develop the OpenTitan RoT, including contributing to its initial overall design, hardware block implementation and firmware. Western Digital's support of the project further extends the company's leadership in advancing open-source innovation, including significant investments in the open-source software and hardware ecosystem, broad participation in open industry standard security groups, and leadership in open-source organizations.

OpenTitan Helps to Make RoT Chips More Transparent, Trustworthy and Secure
A RoT is a function or element in a computing module that is always trusted by the computer's operating system. It serves as the foundational trusted element in a linked chain, in which each element is secured by a prior trusted element. In this way, a RoT can ensure the overall security for multiple constituent elements in a larger complex system. Key benefits of the OpenTitan RoT include:

  • Transparency: Adopters can inspect and contribute to OpenTitan's design, firmware, and documentation, helping to build more transparent, trustworthy hardware RoT chips that benefit everyone.

  • High quality: OpenTitan's goal is to build and maintain a high-quality and logically secure RTL design, firmware, and documentation. The project is staffed by expert engineers focused on rigorous design validation and technical documentation, all based on key learnings from designing Google's Titan chips.

  • Flexible: Adopters can increase their total addressable market and reduce costs by using a single platform-agnostic hardware RoT design that can be integrated in data center servers, peripherals, and any other hardware platforms.

"Customers are asked to put faith in proprietary hardware RoT chips for their mission-critical systems without the ability to fully understand, inspect and, therefore, trust them," said Dominic Rizzo, OpenTitan Lead, Google Cloud. "By creating OpenTitan with technology leaders like Western Digital and the broader hardware and academic community, we can leverage the experience and security principles used to create Google's own Titan chips to make hardware RoT designs more transparent, inspectable, and accessible to the rest of the industry. Security should never be built on opacity."

OpenTitan is managed by lowRISC, an independent not-for-profit engineering organization that uses collaborative engineering to develop and maintain open-source silicon designs and tools.

"At lowRISC, our mission is to establish a vibrant ecosystem around open silicon designs and to help lower the barrier to producing custom chips," said Gavin Ferris, lowRISC CIC board member. "The collaboration between lowRISC, Google, Western Digital and the OpenTitan ecosystem of like-minded organizations focused on the goal of improving transparency around chips helps increase trust in the overall security of the infrastructure on which software runs. With OpenTitan, enterprise organizations and consumers alike will benefit from services built on a more secure infrastructure that is anchored in transparently implemented OpenTitan chips."

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About Western Digital
Western Digital, a leader in data infrastructure, creates environments for data to thrive. The company is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. Everywhere data lives, from advanced data centers to mobile sensors to personal devices, our industry-leading solutions deliver the possibilities of data. Our data-centric solutions are marketed under the G-Technology™, SanDisk®, WD®, and the Western Digital® brands.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, statements regarding the OpenTitan framework and its benefits, our collaborations in connection with the OpenTitan framework, business strategies and growth opportunities, market trends, and data growth and its drivers. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved, if at all. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements.

Key risks and uncertainties include volatility in global economic conditions; business conditions and growth in the storage ecosystem; impact of competitive products and pricing; actions by competitors; unexpected advances in competing technologies; our development and introduction of products based on new technologies and expansion into new data storage markets; difficulties or delays in manufacturing; and other risks and uncertainties listed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") and available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, including our most recently filed periodic report, to which your attention is directed. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as required by law.

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