Our computational workplace is a highly linked communication network; from local processor to the company Intranet and finally to the Internet. Cryptography enables secure and authenticated communication over any kind of networks. It is highly probable that in a few years each bit of information must be encrypted and decrypted. Our activities focus on accelerating the cryptographic computation within IBM’s server systems. The goal is to develop cryptographic accelerators / coprocessors with sufficiently high performance to make the encryption “transparent” to the end-user.
Cryptographic accelerators execute specific operations or entire algorithms much faster than general-purpose processors (CPU). We investigate which operations have to be provided to a CPU and how we can keep them programmable. Another aspect is the system integration of these accelerators, which influences the latency and throughput of the operation.
Cryptographic coprocessors are computational devices that can be trusted to execute cryptographic requests correctly, despite physical attacks. Much of the exciting potential of the secure coprocessing model arises from the notion of putting computation as well as cryptographic secrets inside the secure box. We are designing and evaluating coprocessor approaches to reach high computational throughput in an embedded environment. In addition, we are investigating the potential for synergies between hard- and software.
The IBM 4764 PCI-X Cryptographic Coprocessor is an example for a secure embedded subsystem. It supports IBM server systems to perform cryptography in a highly secure environment.