Centaur Builds Security into X86-Compatible Chips

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-10-14 Print this article Print

Security moved toward mainstream hardware Tuesday morning with the announcement of Centaur Technology's new X86 processor at Microprocessor Forum.

SAN JOSE—Security algorithms moved toward mainstream hardware implementation with a Tuesday morning announcement by Glenn Henry, (as seen in photo above) president of Centaur Technology, here at this weeks Microprocessor Forum. Henry described the addition of basic security operations, such as random-number generation and AES encryption, to his companys line of X86-compatible microprocessors. The new features require the introduction of a new X86 binary operation code but do not require support from the operating system. The executive compared security to 3D graphics, another computationally-intensive task formerly considered too specialized to put into general-purpose processors.
"Hardware is faster and everyone is going to need it, so why not?" he said, adding, "It costs practically nothing in terms of the silicon required, so were doing it to see if people think its important."
Henry contrasted his companys approach against the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base program, formerly known as LaGrande or Palladium, and advanced by Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and others. "The grand schemes from Intel and Microsoft will take a long time to get here and wont solve the problem theyre intended to solve," he said. "Our strategy is to furnish primitives to applications," he added, describing his goal as enabling application developers and users to enjoy speed and low cost in tailoring security to specific needs.´
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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