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3.1. Overview

The TrustZone hardware architecture aims to provide a security framework that enables a device to counter many of the specific threats that it will experience. Instead of providing a fixed one-size-fits-all security solution, TrustZone technology provides the infrastructure foundations that allow a SoC designer to choose from a range of components that can fulfil specific functions within the security environment.

The primary security objective of the architecture is actually rather simple; to enable the construction of a programmable environment that allows the confidentiality and integrity of almost any asset to be protected from specific attacks. A platform with these characteristics can be used to build a wide ranging set of security solutions which are not cost-effective with traditional methods.

The security of the system is achieved by partitioning all of the SoC’s hardware and software resources so that they exist in one of two worlds - the Secure world for the security subsystem, and the Normal world for everything else. Hardware logic present in the TrustZone-enabled AMBA3 AXI™ bus fabric ensures that no Secure world resources can be accessed by the Normal world components, enabling a strong security perimeter to be built between the two. A design that places the sensitive resources in the Secure world, and implements robust software running on the secure processor cores, can protect almost any asset against many of the possible attacks, including those which are normally difficult to secure, such as passwords entered using a keyboard or touch-screen.

The second aspect of the TrustZone hardware architecture is the extensions that have been implemented in some of the ARM processor cores. These additions enable a single physical processor core to safely and efficiently execute code from both the Normal world and the Secure world in a time-sliced fashion. This removes the need for a dedicated security processor core, which saves silicon area and power, and allows high performance security software to run alongside the Normal world operating environment.

The final aspect of the TrustZone hardware architecture is a security-aware debug infrastructure which can enable control over access to Secure world debug, without impairing debug visibility of the Normal world.

Each of these three aspects are discussed in more detail in the following sections of this chapter.


The ARM Architecture Reference Manual and many of the hardware component Technical Reference Manuals use the terms Secure and Non-secure - these are equivalent to the Secure world and the Normal world.

When referring solely to hardware this document will use the Secure and Non-secure naming conventions to avoid confusion. The terms Secure world and Normal world will be used to describe the combination of hardware and software that forms each execution environment.

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