Mit dem Cyrix-4-Prozessor - besser unter dem Codenamen „Esther“ bekannt - hat VIA nun die neueste Generation der eigenen Prozessoren vorgestellt. Dank einigen interessanten Sicherheitsfeatures und einer soliden Leistung möchte man mit dieser CPU vor allem den e-Commerce-Markt bedienen.
Zu den essentiellen Features dieser CPU gehört neben dem 128 kB großen Level-1-Cache auch der 256 kB große Level-2-Cache sowie die Taktfrequenz um die zwei GHz. Des Weiteren besitzt der Esther-Prozessor einen Frontside-Bus mit 800 MHz und SSE, SSE2 sowie SSE3. Um dem Kunden größtmögliche Sicherheit zu garantieren, unterstützt auch der neuen C4-Prozessor das NX-Bit, welches die Ausführung von gefährlichem Programmcode verhindern kann. Zusätzlich fügte man der RSA-Encryption-Einheit den so genannten „Montgomery Multiplier“ hinzu, über die Länge der Pipeline des C4-Prozessors schwieg sich VIA leider aus.
The new C5J Esther core provides world-class security for e-commerce transactions by accelerating RSA encryption and Secure Hashing (SHA-1 and SHA-256), together with support for execution (NX) protection for countering email worms/viruses. Other performance enhancing features include a new faster Front Side Bus (FSB) of up to 800MHz, SSE2/SSE3 multimedia instructions, and a larger L2 cache. [...]
The RSA algorithm is the most widely used public-key cryptography system today and is increasingly important to e-commerce transactions that require exchanging confidential information with websites or checking access privileges. The major challenge facing public-key cryptography is that it requires large amounts of processing power, posing a critical problem for low power consumer electronics and embedded devices that cannot afford to halt in the middle of a video stream or transaction while it does the heavy lifting required by security programs.
Gefertigt wird diese CPU in den Hallen von IBM in der fortschrittlichen 90-nm-Technik. Zusätzlich nutzt man zur Reduzierung der Leckströme die SOI-Technologie, die außerdem noch für einen moderaten Stromverbrauch sorgen sollte. Laut Angaben VIAs würde ein C4 mit einer Taktfrequenz von einem GHz nur 3,5 Watt TDP besitzen - wieviel das Modell mit zwei GHz besitzt, wollte man leider nicht preisgeben. Die gesamte Pressemitteilung mit allen Details gibt es im Klapptext.
Embedded Processor Forum, San Jose, CA, 18 May 2004 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of silicon chip technologies and PC platform solutions, today revealed details of the ultra power efficient VIA C5J “Esther“ processor core manufactured with IBM“s advanced 90nm SOI process and optimized for information security and e-commerce transactions.
With its ultra low power consumption, the VIA C5J Esther core targets smart digital devices that extend the reach of x86 architecture further into the consumer electronics, embedded and mobile fields than current processor performance and thermal limitations allow. The new core is based on IBM“s advanced 90nm SOI manufacturing process, providing a significant boost in processor speed within the same thermal bracket as current VIA processors, and reducing maximum power consumption to a mere 3.5W at 1GHz. Designed to be coupled with a range of feature rich chipsets from VIA, the C5J Esther core will enable unprecedented performance of demanding applications, such as high compression video streaming and data encryption/decryption, from miniature, fanless devices.
The new C5J Esther core provides world-class security for e-commerce transactions by accelerating RSA encryption and Secure Hashing (SHA-1 and SHA-256), together with support for execution (NX) protection for countering email worms/viruses. Other performance enhancing features include a new faster Front Side Bus (FSB) of up to 800MHz, SSE2/SSE3 multimedia instructions, and a larger L2 cache.
“Our approach to processor design allows small, fanless devices to carry out the most demanding security operations while simultaneously processing today's increasingly sophisticated digital entertainment applications,“ said Glenn Henry, President, Centaur Technology. “The new architecture of the C5J Esther core will allow us to ramp up processor speeds to 2GHz and above within the same thermal design points as previous cores, opening up new markets for our processors and extending the reach of the x86 architecture into new device categories.“
More of the World“s Most Advanced On-Die x86 Processor Security Features
The C5J Esther core extends the VIA PadLock Hardware Security Suite to include execution (NX) protection, Montgomery Multiplier support for RSA encryption and secure Hash (SHA-1 and SHA-256) algorithms in addition to the VIA PadLock RNG (http://www.via.com.tw/en/padlock/padlock_hardware.jsp) and VIA PadLock ACE (http://www.via.com.tw/en/padlock/padlock_hardware.jsp) that are featured in the current VIA C5P Nehemiah processor core. These hardware-based building blocks effortlessly carry out operations within security programs and help to improve overall system performance.
“It's great to see a CPU vendor provide hardware support for the most important needs of crypto,“ said Phil Zimmermann, creator of PGP 1.0. “It's always been hard to find a good entropy source for random number generation on an unmanned server, a fast AES implementation for on-the-fly disk encryption, and hardware support for fast public key operations for a server to handle a high traffic workload from remote users. I wish all CPU vendors would do this.“
Execution (NX) protection prevents malicious code associated with worms or viruses from executing and propagating from memory. The VIA C5J Esther core“s NX feature marks memory with an attribute that indicates that code should not be executed from that memory, helping to prevent damage or propagation of malicious code within x86 devices. Execution (NX) protection is an important new hardware-based feature that will be supported in the Microsoft® Windows® XP Service Pack 2.
The RSA algorithm is the most widely used public-key cryptography system today and is increasingly important to e-commerce transactions that require exchanging confidential information with websites or checking access privileges. The major challenge facing public-key cryptography is that it requires large amounts of processing power, posing a critical problem for low power consumer electronics and embedded devices that cannot afford to halt in the middle of a video stream or transaction while it does the heavy lifting required by security programs. The VIA C5J Esther core features a dedicated x86 instruction that performs Montgomery Multiplication, an operation used to speed-up RSA cryptography, reducing the workload on the processor and helping to improve overall system performance during e-commerce transactions.
Secure Hash Algorithms are used in cryptography to provide digital signatures that enable the recipient to verify the authenticity of the origin of the message. The VIA C5P Esther core provides two Secure Hash functions (SHA-1 and SHA-256) that assist in the creation and verification of digital signatures through algorithms that are embedded in the processor die.
“The addition of hardware acceleration for SHA-1 hashing and large-integer operations for public-key cryptography make VIA processors an excellent choice for the implementation of security protocols such as IPsec, SSL/TLS, and SSH, since they eliminate the often heavy CPU overhead normally imposed by the crypto portions of these protocols,“ said Doctor Peter Gutmann of the University of Auckland and author of “CryptLib“. “This removes the need to use the expensive external crypto-processors that are often required to achieve acceptable performance under load.“
“I am delighted to see that VIA's impressive on-chip AES capability is being further extended to provide execution (NX) protection, SHA hashing and support for public key cryptography using Montgomery Multiplication,“ said Dr. Brian Gladman (http://fp.gladman.plus.com/index.htm), a leading information security specialist from Worcester, United Kingdom. “This will put VIA processors in a leading position for building secure applications offering high throughput and low CPU security overheads.“
More information, programmers guides and independent third party evaluations of the VIA PadLock Hardware Security Suite are available from the VIA PadLock Hardware Security Suite (http://www.via.com.tw/en/padlock/padlock_hardware.jsp) website.
IBM“s 90nm SOI Process
The VIA C5J Esther core is being produced with IBM“s groundbreaking silicon manufacturing technologies that include copper interconnects, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and low-k dielectric insulation, together with its advanced 90-nanometer (nm) process. These advanced manufacturing technologies are designed to reduce power consumption and allow processor speeds of 2GHz and beyond within the same thermal envelope as current VIA processors.
IBM“s 90nm manufacturing process provides greater scope for power saving and performance enhancements by decreasing the internal distances traveled by electronic signals within the processor. The low-k dielectric technique, introduced by IBM, is a new method of building microchips that can deliver boosts in computing speed and performance of up to a 30 percent by facilitating the faster movement of electronic signals through the chip. Similarly, IBM“s SOI CMOS technology limits transistor leakage, further increasing performance by an estimated 20-35% while reducing power consumption.
The C5J Esther processor core is designed by Centaur Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of VIA Technologies, Inc., and being manufactured by IBM at their state-of-the-art 300mm (12 inch) foundry in East Fishkill, N.Y.
VIA at Embedded Processor Forum 2004
VIA is staging various live demonstrations of the VIA PadLock Hardware Security Suite at the Embedded Processor Forum in the Empire Room on Tuesday and Wednesday, 18th and 19th May, including a new AES encryption benchmark tool that compares software-based encryption to hardware-based encryption using the VIA Padlock ACE.
Also on display will be the soon to be released VIA EPIA SP12000 Mini-ITX mainboard demonstrating high compression rate MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 digital video playback.