nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library

The nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library is software library to interface with the Arm CryptoCell CC310 hardware accelerator that is available on the nRF52840 SoC and the nRF9160 SiP. The library adds hardware support for selected cryptographic algorithms.

Integration with mbed TLS

The nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library provides low-level integration towards selected versions of mbed TLS deliverables. The APIs expressed in this library use the alternative implementation abstraction layer inside mbed TLS for selected modules.


It is not recommended to link to this library directly. Use the Nordic security module.

Supported cryptographic algorithms

The following tables show the supported cryptographic algorithms in the Arm CryptoCell CC310 hardware accelerator in nRF52840 and nRF9160, as well as the current state of support in the nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library.


If no mbed TLS support is listed in limitations, it indicates that the hardware supports it, but it is not exposed in an API that works with mbed TLS.

If mbedtls_extra only is listed in limitations, it indicates that an API similar to recent versions of mbed TLS is made available with the library.

AES - Advanced Encryption Standard

Cipher Limitations
CTR 128-bit
CBC 128-bit
OFB 128-bit, no mbed TLS support
CFB 128-bit, no mbed TLS support
CMAC 128-bit

AEAD - Authenticated Encryption with Associated Data

Cipher Limitations
CCM/CCM* 128-bit
ChaCha-Poly 128-bit, mbedtls_extra only


APIs currently in mbedtls_extra, as well as APIs with no current HW TLS support, will be supported in upcoming releases of the nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library.


Supported for key sizes <= 2048 bits.


PKCS#1 v1.5 and v2.1 is supported for signing and encryption including:


Supported for key sizes <= 2048 bits.

Secure Hash

SHA-1 and SHA-256 is supported.


ECDSA and ECDH is supported for the following elliptic curves:

SEC 2/NIST 186-4:

  • secp160r1
  • secp192r1
  • secp224r1
  • secp256r1
  • secp384r1
  • secp521r1


  • secp160k1
  • secp192k1
  • secp224k1
  • secp256k1


  • Ed25519
  • Curve25519

Additional items in mbedtls_extra

The following is a list of features available in mbedtls_extra as non-standard mbed TLS APIs:

  • AES key wrap functions
  • ChaCha20 and Poly1305
  • HKDF
  • SRP, up to 3072 bits

Using the library

Providing platform specific calloc/free

This library facilitates the same type of memory management as regular mbed TLS deliverables. This includes using internal calls to calloc/free from the library code when memory is needed.

The following API must be used to change the default calloc/free function:

Setting custom calloc/free
int ret;

ret = mbedtls_platform_set_calloc_free(alloc_fn, free_fn);
if (ret != 0) {
        /* Failed to set the alternative calloc/free */
        return ret;


This API must be called prior to calling mbedtls_platform_setup().


The library will default to use clib calloc/free functions if the mbedtls_platform_set_calloc_free() is not used.

Initializing the library

The library requires initialization before use. You can initialize it by calling the mbedtls_platform_setup()/mbedtls_platform_teardown() functions.

Initializing the library
int ret;
static mbedtls_platform_context platform_context = {0};

ret = mbedtls_platform_setup(&platform_context);
if (ret != 0) {
        /* Failed to initialize nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto platform */
        return ret,


There is no need to enable/disable the CC310 hardware by writing to the NRF_CRYPTOCELL->ENABLE and NRF_CRYPTOCELL_S->ENABLE registers. This happens automatically when calling APIs in this library.

RNG initialization memory management

The nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library allocates a work buffer during RNG initialization using calloc/free. The size of this work buffer is 6112 bytes. An alternative to allocating this on the heap is to provide a reference to a static variable inside the mbedtls_platform_context structure type.

Preventing heap-allocation for RNG initialization
int ret;
static mbedtls_rng_workbuf_internal rng_workbuf;
static mbedtls_platform_context platform_context = {0};
platform_context.p_rnd_workbuf = &rng_workbuf;

ret = mbedtls_platform_setup(&platform_context);
if (ret != 0) {
        /* Failed to initialize nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto platform */
        return ret,

Usage restrictions

On the nRF9160 SiP, the nrf_cc310_mbedcrypto library is restricted to only work in secure processing environment. The library uses mutexes to ensure single usage of hardware modules.