Intel introduces new security technologies for its upcoming 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Platform, code-named “Ice Lake.” Intel is bringing Intel Software Guard Extension to the full spectrum of Ice Lake platforms. Additionally, new features include Intel Total Memory Encryption, Intel Platform Firmware Resilience, and new cryptographic accelerators which strengthen the platform and increase the overall confidentiality.
Intel’s new security capabilities include:
- Full memory encryption: To better protect the entire memory of a platform, Ice Lake introduces a new feature called Intel Total Memory Encryption. Intel TME helps ensure that all memory accessed from the Intel CPU is encrypted, including customer credentials, encryption keys, and other IP or personal information on the external memory bus. Intel developed this feature to provide greater protection for system memory against hardware attacks, such as removing and reading the dual in-line memory module after spraying it with liquid nitrogen or installing purpose-built attack hardware. Using the National Institute of Standards and Technology storage encryption standard AES XTS, an encryption key is generated using a hardened random number generator in the processor without exposure to software. This allows existing software to run unmodified while better protecting memory.
- Cryptographic acceleration: One of Intel’s design goals is to remove or reduce the performance impact of increased security so customers don’t have to choose between better protection and acceptable performance. Ice Lake introduces several new instructions used throughout the industry, coupled with algorithmic and software innovations, to deliver breakthrough cryptographic performance. There are two fundamental innovations. The first is a technique to stitch together the operations of two algorithms that typically run in combination yet sequentially, allowing them to execute simultaneously. The second is a method to process multiple independent data buffers in parallel.
- Growing resilience: Sophisticated adversaries may attempt to compromise or disable the platform’s firmware to intercept data or take down the server. Ice Lake introduces Intel Platform Firmware Resilience to the Intel Xeon Scalable platform to help protect against platform firmware attacks, designed to detect and correct them before they can compromise or disable the machine. Intel PFR uses an Intel FPGA as a platform root of trust to validate critical-to-boot platform firmware components before any firmware code is executed. The firmware components protected can include BIOS Flash, BMC Flash, SPI Descriptor, Intel Management Engine, and power supply firmware.
Lisa Spelman, Corporate Vice President in the Data Platform Group and General Manager of the Xeon and Memory Group, Intel said,
“Protecting data is essential to extracting value from it, and with the capabilities in the upcoming 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable platform, we will help our customers solve their toughest data challenges while improving data confidentiality and integrity. This extends our long history of partnering across the ecosystem to drive security innovations.”
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