Trusted Computing

By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2005-12-19 Print this article Print

Officials also said that AMD will include support for the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 specification in chips shipped next year and that there could be other applications for Presidio in addition to securing Windows machines. In fact, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company is working with the Open Trusted Computing group on a specification for trusted computing in Linux distributions. And, officials said, there likely will be servers shipping with TPMs (trusted platform modules) installed by 2007.

The Pacifica technology, designed to offload some of the tasks performed by virtualization software from VMware, the Xen project and, eventually, Microsoft, also will evolve to include I/O virtualization, officials said.
AMD has begun work on that project, although officials declined to say when it will appear in products.

AMDs Presidio and Pacifica initiatives are similar to the Intel Virtualization Technology and "LaGrande" technology security programs from rival Intel.

Click here to read more about AMDs Pacifica initiative. Intel has begun shipping some desktop Pentium 4 chips with virtualization technology, though officials say it wont be until the "Presler" chip—an updated dual-core Pentium D—rolls out in the first quarter that adoption by systems makers will ramp up. It also will begin to appear in server chips next year.

LaGrande security features are expected to begin appearing in Intel chips next year.

For its part, Intels Communications Technology Lab, in a project called System Integrity Services, has created a hardware engine to sniff out sophisticated malware attacks by monitoring the way operating systems and critical applications interact with hardware inside computers. The engine eventually will make its way into products, although Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., declined to say when.

By watching a computers main memory, the engine can detect when an attacker takes control of the system in attacks that sever the ties between data loaded into memory by an application and the application itself. Such attacks can fool a system so as to avoid detection while potentially allowing for surreptitious pilfering of data or the perpetration of other attacks.

Steve Johnson, senior analyst for the mathematics department at Texas A&M University, said bringing security and virtualization onto the chip makes sense, although he is reserving final judgment until he hears more specifics. "Im not sure if Intel or AMD have been clear on their ideas," said Johnson, of College Station, Texas. "Theyre not really defining what theyre going to do, but I look forward to hearing their plans."

Ziff Davis Internet senior writers John G. Spooner and Ryan Naraine contributed to this report.

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