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IBM Research News: IBM Research Demonstrates Linux Running on Secure Cryptographic Coprocessor

Aug 31, 2001, 09:14 (2 Talkback[s])
"IBM Research has demonstrated Linux running on the IBM 4758 secure cryptographic coprocessor, a hardware security module. This is the first general purpose operating system (OS) running on a secure coprocessor. The IBM 4758 cryptographic coprocessor is an advanced, tamper-sensing and responding, programmable PCI card. Its specialized cryptographic electronics, along with a microprocessor, memory and random number generator are housed within a tamper-responding environment to provide a highly secure subsystem in which data processing and cryptography can be performed.

By running Linux, it enables much easier migration and porting of applications into the secure environment than with the current CP/Q operating system. As a key product for secure e-business, its main applications are financial-related solutions, such as electronic coupon dispensers, Internet postage meters, intellectual property protection (web subscription services), signatures for digital documents and certificate authorities.

The Linux-based IBM 4758 also offers significantly better performance, including eight times improved communication latency and four times faster throughput, over the current custom OS based product offering. In addition, Linux provides better support for new features, which are not supported by the custom OS such as running multiple potentially hostile applications on the same 4758 coprocessor card and allowing cross card communications that enables load balancing among multiple cards."

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