Abit Computer Corp. has added a "lockdown" feature to its latest motherboard, the IC7-MAX3.
Built around Intels 875P chipset, the IC7-MAX3 motherboard includes a feature dubbed "Secure IDE". Secure IDE allows the hard drive to be secured with a hardware dongle, securing the data by encrypting the entire hard drive.
According to an Abit spokesman, the motherboard does not require a special hard drive. However, the motherboard uses a security chipset, the eNOVA X-Wall, to secure the data.
The eNOVA chipset can be mounted within the floppy drive bay, according to an Abit spokesman based in the U.S. A dongle, which accepts a security key, connects the user to the chipset, which sits between the hard drives ribbon cable and the 875P core logic chipset. The PC powers the security chipset through the hard drives power cables.
Operating the drive is simple. "When you use the secure pin, the hard drive will work," the spokesman said. "When you dont plug it in, the hard drive wont work."
When a user installs the hard drive and IC7-MAX3 motherboard, he or she is asked to enter the system BIOS and enable the lockdown through a FDISK format disk command. Through an associated software utility, the disk is formatted in an encrypted state, only unlocking when the appropriate security dongle is used.
Interestingly, Abits web site has chosen to market the motherboard at enthusiasts who trade files using the Kazaa peer-to-peer software.
"Lock down your hard disk, not with a password, but with hardware encryption," the company said in a statement. "A password can be cracked by software in a few hours. ABITs SecureIDE will keep government supercomputers busy for weeks and will keep the RIAA away from your Kazaa files forever."
According to eNOVA, the entire hard drive is encrypted, including the boot sector, operating system, and temp and swap files. Encryption up to Triple DES levels is available; Abit did not define the level of encryption available with the IC7-MAX3. Although the Wall chipset can encrypt and decrypt data fast enough enough to enable a throughput of about 1.1 Gbits/s, the technology only works with ATA-100, ATA-66, and ATA-33 drives, the company said.
Abits IC7-MAX3 will be available in mid-August, the Abit spokesman said. The motherboard boasts Abits OTES technology to cool the power MOSFETs and resistors, four-channel Serial ATA RAID 0+1, 5 PCI slots, four USB 2.0 connections, and a IEEE1394 interface.