IBM has tapped cryptography specialist Security First to harden the security of its next generation of chips, so it can offer stronger data encryption at the processor level.
Under an agreement announced on Friday, the companies will work on integrating three of Security First's cryptographic technologies — SPxCore, SPxBitFiler and SPxConnect — into IBM's wire-speed processor project. They expect the first products from the collaboration to be available in the first half of 2012.
"It's part of a development project for next-generation processor technology," an IBM spokesman told ZDNet UK on Monday.
The wire-speed processor (WSP) is an experimental chip architecture that combines 16 multi-threaded IBM PowerPC cores with dedicated accelerators for packet processing, security and compression to create a system-on-a-chip.
Security First's SPxCore stores, encrypts and seeds data across an organisation's infrastructure to provide redundancy and security. Its SPxBitFiler helps to federate encrypted data across private and public clouds, while SPxConnect is designed to mitigate man-in-the-middle attacks.
"Through our combined technologies, Security First and IBM will deliver scalable data security and high availability directly to public and private-sector customers that require the highest levels of secure data transmission and storage in the cloud," Security First's chief executive Mark O'Hare said in a statement.
IBM says the WSP technology is targeted at applications that need to operate at "wire speed" — basically, that can operate at the upper limits of the hardware's data-transmission capacity. IBM said its WSP system has networking I/O that can provide four 10Gbps bi-directional links.
Intel has already integrated hardware-level cryptography into its latest range of chips via its Trusted Execution Technology. More work on this front can be expected as the chipmaker integrates technology gained from its purchase of McAfee into future processors.
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