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Transmeta Embeds Security in TM5800 Chips

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta on Tuesday announced plans to issue a new version of its TM5800 Crusoe processor with embedded technologies for securing sensitive data and delivering tamper-resistant x86 storage environments.

Transmeta said its Crusoe processors (which already feature Code Morphing software) would be slightly altered to tackle security and address requirements for securing sensitive data and intellectual property. Embedding these features in the main processor provides increased security over existing multi-chip solutions, the company said.

The new security technologies include secure hidden storage of confidential information, encryption acceleration and a processor architecture that can be extended to support new features and industry standards, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) .

Transmeta said the new security technologies would ship in the second half of 2003.

The company, which sells its chips to notebook computer makers like Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu, said the providing of secure storage of certificates and keys for authentication and encryption of confidential data was a "critical challenge facing the computer industry and end users."

Because existing software for storage security are external components, Transmeta said they add cost and system space requirements. To address this, Transmeta's new security technologies would provide interfaces to the Crusoe architecture that enable both runtime and secure storage of certificates, keys, and eventually, other confidential information.

It said the storage facilities within the Crusoe architecture would be invisible to the x86 space, representing a tamper-resistant environment.

The new processors would also feature a hardware acceleration engine for commonly used symmetric key encryption algorithms such as the Data Encryption Standard (DES), DES-X and Triple-DES. The company said hardware support for DES, DES-X and Triple-DES would speed up security applications such as file and disk data encryption and the Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) algorithm commonly used in Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Competitors Intel and AMD have also outlined plans to build security features into their chipsets.