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Raspberry Pi Pico Powers Chip Glitch Injector

The Pico EMP tool
(Image credit: NewAE Technology Inc.)

An interesting, if somewhat dangerous in the wrong hands, build comes to us via Hackaday, and uses a Raspberry Pi Pico to carry out all sorts of nefarious operations on other chips, all in the name of reverse engineering. 

The PicoEMP by NewAE Technology Inc is an electromagnetic fault injector, or EMFI, that consists of a Pico, custom PCB, an injection tip and a plastic safety shield. The idea is that you place the injector tip over the top of the microchip you’re interested in, arm the device, and shock the chip with up to 250 volts. This can have many effects, generally disrupting the program the chip is running, but sometimes putting it into a state from which it can be exploited. The plastic safety shield prevents the voltage pulse from being discharged into the operator, who is quite likely to glitch the EMFI across the room if struck.

It’s a complex and exact science - Hackaday provides this example of  a glitch exploit being run on a Nintendo DSi to recover its boot ROMs - and you really need to know what you’re doing and have other equipment ready to exploit the glitched chip, but this open-source and relatively low cost glitching tool could be the start of something.

Ian Evenden
Ian Evenden

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.