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ABIT puts security on the motherboard

Taking on NITROX

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ABIT today launched server motherboards featuring integrated security processors, with a promise to slash the cost of building security appliances.

The Taiwanese manufacturer's SI-1N Pentium 4 processor-based server motherboard comes with Cavium Network's NITROX Security Macro Processor, designed to gear their deployment towards security applications, such as VPN gateways, Integrated Firewall/ VPNs, SSL Webservers, and SSL VPNs. It hopes to sell these security-enhanced motherboards to security appliance OEMs.

Syed Ali, president and chief executive of Cavium Networks, told us integrating its programmable network processors rather than using add-on boards or running security software on standard servers can reduce product cost for OEMs while increasing performance and flexibility.

Quite how much this will result in lowered costs to end-users is so far unclear but Cavium reckons adding security processors only increases mobo manufacturing prices by around 10 per cent, so the savings could be very substantial.

Cavium's NITROX processor family can switch between IPsec, SSL processing (key for the deployment of increasing popular SSL-based VPNs fro the likes of Aventail) or handle both protocols at the same time with a simple software change.

According to Cavium, the NITROX Lite CN1005 processor integrated onto ABIT's SI-1N server motherboard can process up to 400Mbps of IPsec traffic or 3,500 RSA operations per second.

In a statement, ABIT said it believed over time security will become a standard feature in server motherboards for PC based security appliances.

ABIT's product plans include multi-processor server motherboards with multiple Gigabit Ethernet controllers and Cavium's NITROX CN1120 processor. The NITROX CN1120 can process up to 1Gbps of IPsec traffic or 14,000 RSA operations per second.

Silicon-valley start up Cavium, whose clients include Array Networks as well as ASUS, competes with the likes of Broadcom and Hifn in the growing security co-processor market. ®

Bootnote

In diver parlance, Nitrox is a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen with a higher percentage of Oxygen than found in atmospheric air. It's not the same as the compound Nitrous Oxide (aka laughing gas).

Divers use Nitrox mixes in preference to compressed air because it helps prevent nitrogen narcosis, the dangerous intoxicated condition caused when nitrogen dissolves in the blood.

Another advantage of high-O2 Nitrox mixes is reduced susceptibility to decompression sickness (the bends) due to a lower level of nitrogen absorbed during a dive.

As readers point out, Oxygen itself becomes toxic at higher partial pressures hence divers use helium oxygen mixes at greater depths.

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