Feeds

Non-Intel Processor Serial Numbers around for 20 years

We're all doomed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Reducing security risks from open source software

Chipzilla's much-maligned PSN is not the first system serial number. Sun has had a hardware serial number coded into each system (as have most Unix hardware vendors) since the early 80s. Most large (aka expensive) Unix software is usually locked to a certain system serial number to prevent piracy. "Sun puts a serial number -- termed a 'host ID' -- on the non-volatile ram (NVRAM) chip on all its motherboards. It's roughly equivalent to a PC's BIOS, but easily removable just in case some part of the motherboard craps out. The host ID is rather short, but the chances of having two systems with the same host ID in the same state or province are small," writes reader Larry Knox. Chipzilla's PSN isn't guaranteed to be unique either, but -- as Intel is at pains to remind world + dog -- the main benefit of a PSN is to system administrators in large corporates where the chances of two chips sharing the same number are pretty remote. And since this was first posted, readers have supplied us with some more non-Intel PSNs for you. First: "The earliest 'serial number' implementation I've heard of is by Alpha Micro. Each system had a unique SSD chip which software interrogated to check it was on the licensed system. When upgrading, the SSD chip would be moved to the new system." Second: "Apart from UNIX boxes - Acorn machines since the RiscPC all had a 48-bit unique (guaranteed unique, and not just because so few of them were ever made ;)) serial numbers, used for copy protection. In fact, companies like Dallas Semiconductor make a huge range of ID chips to be put into electronic products, all with guaranteed unique numbers laser-etched into the silicon. A lot go into dongles, but many also go into machines - we serial number our products electronically so we can track support better... but as they're car radios, I don't think this is much of a problem. :)" So there we have it -- government departments, the military, hospitals and suchlike have been using Unix boxes for years now, and each one has had a CPU serial number on them all that time and civilisation doesn't appear to have come to an end. So will you please all stop banging on about PSN now? The only risk it poses is to make the use of illegally copied software more difficult -- but of course, that was what the 'privacy' protestors were really worried about all along, wasn't it? ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.