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VIA x86 processor has embedded security functions

Posted: 23 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:via technologies? c3 processor? x86 processor? nehemiah cpu core? padlock?

VIA Technologies Inc. has announced the release of the C3 processor, which is claimed to be the industry's first x86 processor that features embedded security functions.

Available in Socket 370 CPGA and enhanced BGA packages, the processor integrates the Nehemiah CPU core and a PadLock data encryption engine to enhance protection of sensitive corporate and personal data.

The 1GHz processor core is based on an advanced CoolStream processor architecture that the company claims to deliver the necessary performance required by demanding digital media applications, while maintaining low levels of power consumption and heat dissipation.

The PadLock encryption engine features a random number generator (RNG) that uses random electrical noise on the chip to securely produce random number values, and features a direct application level interface through a new x86 instruction. It includes several operating modes, offering performance from 750Kbps to 6Mbps.

"VIA's incorporation of a hardware random number source on the processor die is exciting for developers, since it provides a simple and effective way of obtaining high quality randomness," said Paul Kocher, President of Cryptography Research Inc. and co-inventor of SSL 3.0. "This is particularly important for security and cryptography applications, since it is notoriously difficult to generate random numbers of adequate quality without a hardware random number generator."

"I am enthusiastic about the benefit to applications such as secure web browsing, cryptographic key generation, and protocols where randomness is required," added Kocher.

Other new features include four new pipeline stages, SSE multimedia instructions, StepAhead advanced branch prediction, 64KB of full-speed exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity, and a full-speed FPU. At 1GHz, the processor is measured to dissipate a typical power of 10W.

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