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Quantum crypto pitches for data centre links

100 Gbps, ten channels, one box doing real live quantum crypto today

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The quantum crypto business is hardly crowded, but ID Quantique is hoping to set itself apart with a 100 Gbps-capable unit.

This is hardly consumer kit, however: the target market for the QKD-plus-crypto-engine kit is outfits running multiple high capacity links, either at 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps. Think of inter-data-centre connections and you have the right idea.

CEO Gregoire Ribordy told The Register the new system, developed in partnership with venerable Australian crypto outfit Senetas, was put together with two aims in mind: addressing the heightened interest in data centre security in the wake of Edward Snowden's NSA revelations, while at the same time avoiding the complexity that arises from deploying quantum crypto on a link-by-link basis.

The new unit from ID Quantique handles key generation, key management, and encryption for up to ten links at 10 Gbps.

At the heart of it is the company's quantum random number generator, which provides random numbers for all encrypted channels, and as Ribordy pointed out, that's designed to address the post-NSA concerns about crypto.

“You need to start with very high quality keys to get good encryption keys overall,” he said. “Part of the scandal of the last six months was that random number generators didn't offer the full entropy that was expected of them.”

Keys can be exchanged either using quantum key distribution (QKD) or more familiar techniques like RSA, Ribordy said.

The unit's aggregate capacity of ten links and 100 Gbps means that even a Google, which might run as many as 30 inter-data-centre links, would only need a few units rather than one encryptor per link. That Ribordy said, makes a big difference not just to affordability, but to manageability. ®

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