If you have a smartphone then there’s a good chance that it comes with an ARM chip inside. The British company ARM Holdings is the market leader in smartphone processors.
Today the company announced a series of new products at Computex, with one standing out in particular. Not because it includes ground breaking features that will improve the consumer experience, but through its embedded hardware DRM.
Developed on Hollywood’s demand, the Mali-V500 video processor is the first mobile chip optimized to prevent high-definition video from being pirated.
Until now the major movie studios have been hesitant to move some of their videos to mobile platforms since these are harder to secure. However, this will change in the future if ARM’s new processor is implemented.
“In order to protect their multi-billion dollar investments, studios and content owners are demanding hardware-backed security across all devices that play their premium content,” ARM’s director of market development Cris Porthouse notes in a blog post.
“This means that in order to support premium content mobile and other consumer embedded devices must support hardware-backed protection of content from download to display.”
ARM’s Mali-V500 is the first chip of its kind to offer this kind of protection, sometimes dubbed hardware DRM. According to Porthouse the video processor offers state of the art security with support for a wide variety of DRM solutions.
“In order to meet the stringent security requirements of movie content owners, Mali-V500 has been architected to efficiently support ARM TrustZone and associated media playback use cases efficiently,” he writes.
Speaking with the Financial Times, Porthouse said that Hollywood and Netflix demand hardware protection as traditional DRM solutions are no longer sufficient.
“Hollywood movie studios and major content distributors like Netflix and others are demanding for premium or early window content – their highest-value content – to be protected not just by digital rights management but by the hardware, all the way from download through to display.”
So if it’s up to ARM your smartphone will soon be shipped with built-in DRM to keep pirates at bay.
The question is, however, whether all this expensive technology will be effective in preventing movies from leaking out. Or will it mostly cause trouble for legitimate consumers, as is often the case with other forms of DRM.