Open-source hardware startup gets funds from Space

May 25, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Open-source hardware startup gets funds from Space
SpaceChain Foundation, which is launching a satellite network to host blockchain infrastructure, has invested in Core Semiconductor Pte. Ltd., a fabless chip company developing open-source secure processors.

The size of the investment was not disclosed but CoreSemi is a 2019 startup with headquarters in Singapore and offices in Tokyo. The company is a fabless chip company aiming to provide provably secure processing based on open-source hardware.

The company's products already include the J2 Secure SoC, which is based on the J32 CPU core, backwards compatible with the Hitachi SH-compact instruction set architecture. It also offers IP cores for license including the J-Core CPU, the S-Core DSP, a GNSS baseband receiver, analog-front-end.

The company is led by CEO Jeff Dionne and COO Michael Tokue.

SpaceChain is itself a Singapore startup founded by a Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik and blockchain advocate Zee Zheng.

Founded in 2017, SpaceChain is a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build an open-source blockchain-based satellite network, allowing users to develop and run decentralized applications in space. The SpaceChain operating system will be available to anyone, anywhere in the world, all while remaining secure and immutable through proven blockchain cryptography.

Since its formation SpaceChain has launched two satellites, and one payload to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). SpaceChain’s current activities focus on cybersecurity, specifically cryptocurrency wallet security.

SpaceChain has contracted with CoreSemi to provide an open-source hardware platform capable of providing a downlink to mobile phones and small devices directly from satellites in orbit, without the use of a satellite dish on Earth or a third-party network.

CoreSemi has designed a low bit rate GNSS receiver to be small enough to fit inside any handheld device and with a commodity price point, SpaceChain said. The unit addresses a rate of just 160bps or 20bytes per second but this is suitable for its intended purpose of verifying blockchain hashes and encrypted signatures.

"GPS is a low data-rate protocol that has transformed the way we navigate the world and created over US$400

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