Encryption: Computers can use memory chips as source of random numbers

Random numbers – a vital part of encryption – are hard for computers to generate, but a new trick turns memory chips into a source of random noise


11 January 2022

SK Hynix HY5DU281622ET CMOS DDR DRAM chip on circuit board

A DRAM memory chip on a circuit board

B Christopher / Alamy

Computers struggle to create randomness, but a new approach may finally enable them to choose a truly random number.

Random numbers are a vital ingredient for cryptographic algorithms and scientific simulations, but machines built for churning through tasks with guaranteed repeatability cannot be easily made unpredictable. The pseudorandomness computers create is enough for some applications, but telltale patterns within the output make them inadequate for the most sensitive.

True Random Number Generators (TRNGs) produce numbers by sampling a physical source of entropy such …