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Advanced INFOSEC Machine

AIM was a highly programmable embeddable cryptographic unit, developed my Motorola in the late 1990s. It consisted of a hardware platform with a 9-million transistor custom-built cryptographic processor (AIM) and a Secure Operating System (SOS) that allowed multiple channels with different types of encryption to be used simultaneously. It had the potential to replace many existing encryption solutions with a single device. In 2000, AIM was approved by the NSA as a Type-1 cryptographic device. In 2001, the Integrated Information Systems Group (IISG) of Motorola was taken over by General Dynamics (GD), where it was integrated with General Dynamics C4 Systems. The company has since introduced the more advanced AIM II processor.
According to Motorola, AIM was one of the most revolutionary developments in the world of cryptography at the time [1]. AIM basically consisted of a custom-built VLSI chip with approx. 9 million transistors, running at 30MHz. It was capably of encoding/decoding up to 1024 individual data channels simultaneously at 100Mb/s. AIM was highly configurable and the device was unclassified until programmed.

The image on the right shows an early prototype of the AIM chip as it was released on Motorola's website at the time. The chip contains the necessary building blocks to create state-of-the-art encryptions algorithms such as SAVILLE, BATON and DES, using the three built-in cryptographic engines (PCE, CCE and KMCE). Each engine is based on RISC architecture.

The chip was designed to support a host of legacy protocols and algorithms, including DS-101, DS-102 and full support for a Crypto Ignition Key (CIK). Standard cryptographic algorithms can be implemented with a varying deree of performance, allowing backwards compatibility with existing equipment. In addition, the chip can be programmed freely, allowing future algorithms to be added later. Around the same time, a similar crypto-chip, called GCD, was developed in Europe.

The simple block diagram above shows an example in which AIM is used to encode/decode three legacy protocols simultaneously using two external (de)multiplexers whith full RED/BLACK separation. In this case, two data algorithms are used (KG-194 and KG-84) whilst a SAVILLE voice channel [10] is processed at the same time. Context switching is fully supported by the AIM chip.
Packaged AIM chip Wafer containing several AIM chips AIM in the KOV-5 encryption module for the F-22 aircraft

Development of the AIM started in the mid-1990s at Motorola's System Solutions Group. On 28 October 1998 it was announced that the new chip was working and that it had been demonstrated to communicate with two independant US Government Type-1 link encryptors (probably KG-81, KIV-19 or KIV-7) simultaneously [4].

As it was Motorola's intention to make AIM available world-wide, they applied for an export licence in 1999. On 13 July 1999, the US' top two law enforcement officals, Attourney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh, strongly objected against this and adviced Congress not to lift any export restrictions [5]. According to them, it would enable terrorists, drug trafficers and child pornographers to use strong voice and data encryption, which would have a devastating effect on law enforcement and damage national security.

Despite these strong objections, the Department of Commerce (DoC) lifted the export restrictions on 21 July, by giving it a favorable commodity classification (5A992) [6]. As a result, AIM became available to third parties world-wide, allowing companies to export products that incorporated AIM without having to invoke strong export controls. Motorola subsequently released a series of development tools allowing third parties to develop AIM-based products.
Later that year (September '99) it was announced that Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems had awarded Motorola a $23.2 million contract to update the Cryptographic Security Module (CSM) in F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighers (ATF) with the Advanced INFOSEC Machine (AIM) [7].

The AIM became available in the so-called SEM-E packaging and was eventually integrated into the KOV-5, a plug-in upgrade for the existing COMSEC equipment in the F-22, shown in the image on the right. The KOV-5 had already been announced by Motorola a few years earlier (in 1997) in an advert in Flight International [9].

In January 2000, AIM was finally approved by the NSA as a Type-1 Encryption Product, which Motorola announced in a press release [8]. Strangely, this was the last public announcement about AIM, which should probably been seen in the light of the 9-11 attacks (11 September 2001). After the last press release in 2000, the website was moved to a different location and was no longer updated. Eventually, in late February 2002, the website dissappeared completely.

AIM Development (PCI) Card

  • AIM Development Card
    The AIM Development Card (ADC) was a PCI extension card that fitted a standard Personal Computer (PC). It was used in conjunction with the AIM Evaluation Kit and the AIM Development Platform (see below).

  • AIM Evaluation Kit
    The AIM Evaluation Kit (AEK) was a collection of hardware and software which allowed users to explore the features of the AIM and test and demonstrate the chip.

  • AIM Development Platform
    The AIM Development Platform (ADP) contained all of the hardware and software that was needed to develop a working product, program the embedded VLSI part and run the necessary emulations.

  • Multiple channels (up to 1024)
  • Multiple algorithms (up to 8)
  • Many algorithms pre-coded
  • Legacy algorithms
  • PKE algorithms (public key)
  • Key management
  • Built-in Random Number Generator (RNG)
  • Type-1 to Type-4 encryption product
  • Built-in Secure Operating System (SOS)
  • High speed
  • Low power
  • 2 x Full-duplex serial I/O (RS232, RS422, etc.)
  • Configurable 32-bit parallel I/O
  • DS-101 and DS-102 compatible
  • Crypto Ignition Key (CIK) interface
  • Math Accelerator for PKE
  • 32-bit RISC processor
The table below shows the performace of some well-known algorithms as a percentage of the input clock rate. Please note that different versions of AIM may run at different clock speeds. As an example, running BATON at 10MHz, produces an encryption rate of 12.9Mb/s.
  • BATON: 129%
  • PHALANX: 139%
  • DES (64-bit): 76%
  • Tripple DES (3DES): 25%
  • ACCORDION: 28%
  • SAVILLE: 4%
  • KEESEE: 100%
Cryptographic algorithms
The following cryptographic algorithms are supported by AIM [11]:
  • Accordion
  • AES (AIM)
  • Baton
  • Crayon
  • DES, 3DES
  • DSA (Digital Signature Algorithm)
  • Firefly
  • Jackknife
  • Keesee
  • Mark XII (Cadmus)
  • Medley
  • Phalanx
  • Saville
  • SHA-1/256/384/512
  • Vallor
  • Walburn
  • Weasel
AIM II is compatible and interoperable with the following devices and techniques [11]:
Similar products

AIM   Advanced INFOSEC Machine

VLSI   Very Large Scale Integration

  1. Motorola Inc. AIM Website 'www.aim.motorola.com'
    As of February 2002 no longer available.

  2. Motorola Inc., AIM Brochure
    RC-115-4001A. 18-page full-colour brochure. USA, 1999.

  3. Motorola Inc., AIM Leaflet
    R3-115-4002A. 2-page full-colour leaflet. USA, 1999.

  4. Motorola, Advance Crypto Engine Revs Up System Operation of Motorola's New Programmable Advanced INFOSEC Machine, AIM
    Motorola press release, 28 October 1998. Retrieved October 2012.2

  5. Motorola, Reno and Freeh Oppose Easing Export Controls on Encryption
    Motorola press release, 13 July 1999. Retrieved October 2012.2

  6. Motorola, Motorola Crypto Platform Receives Favorable Export Classification
    Motorola press release, 21 July 1999. Retrieved October 2012.2

  7. Motorola, Motorola Crypto Device to Secure Communications for F-22 Figher
    Motorola press release, 13 September 1999. Retrieved October 2012.2

  8. Motorola, Motorola Crypto Platform Receives NSA Type 1 Certification
    Motorola press release, 19 January 2000. Retrieved October 2012.2

  9. Flight International, The F-22 Story
    9-15 April 1997. p. 5. Retrieved October 2012 from the 'www.flightglobal.com' website.

  10. Crypto Museum, SAVILLE, NSA Type-1 cryptographic algorithm
    Website. December 2011.

  11. General Dynamics, Advanced INFOSEC Machine (AIM)
    March 2008. Retrieved March 2013.

  1. Motorola's website that contained information about AIM is no longer available.
  2. Retrieved by means of WayBack Machine.
Further information

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