Platform services and ncoreapi

The nShield HSM firmware provides multiple services. These are divided into platform services and the ncoreapi service.

ncoreapi service

The ncoreapi service provides cryptographic services to the end user. This can either be via custom applications created by the end user accessing services using the ncoreapi service, as described in nCore API Documentation and Cryptographic API, or by using the utilities provided on the installation media.

Multi-tenancy ready

The system has been prepared for use in multi-tenant systems. In the current firmware version, only one instance of the ncoreapi service is allowed to run at any one time. Future versions of firmware will allow multiple instances of the ncoreapi service to run concurrently.

Platform services

Several platform services are provided which perform the tasks associated with the installation, commissioning, and maintenance of the HSM firmware and hardware. These run independently of the ncoreapi service.

The platform services are

Service name Function


This services provides functions to upgrade the HSM firmware


This service provides functions to view the HSM 'lifetime' data installed in the factory and to return the HSM to factory settings


This service provides functions to retrieve and clear logs stored within the HSM


This service provides functions to manage the SSH keys used by the platform services and the ncoreapi service


Launcher service. On versions with CodeSafe 5 support, this is used for starting CodeSafe 5 applications on the HSM.

The administration of platform services is described in Administration of platform services

An interlock mechanism prevents most platform services from being accessed when the ncoreapi service is in operational mode:

  • Non-invasive services that only access information, such as log retrieval or a firmware version check, can be used while ncoreapi is running.

  • Invasive services that would change the platform’s state, such as log clearing or firmware updates, cannot be used while ncoreapi` is running.

To access invasive platform services the ncoreapi service must be put into maintenance mode using nopclearfail -M -m <MODULEID> -w.

For example:

>nopclearfail -M -m 1
Module 1, command ClearUnitEx: OK

Separation of services

Each of the platform services and the ncoreapi service has its own communication channel with the host PC that is protected by use of SSH encryption. The procedure for installing the necessary SSH keys is described in Set up communication between host and module.