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Accelerating SSL using the Vector processors in IBM’s Cell Broadband Engine

By For Sony’s Playstation, Neil Costigan and Michael Scott


Abstract. Recently the major performance chip manufacturers have turned to multi-core technology as a more cost effective alternative to ever increasing clock speeds. Well known examples of multi-core architectures include the Intel Core Duo and AMD Athlon 64 X2 range of chips. IBM have introduced the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell) as their next generation CPU to feed the insatiable appetite modern multimedia and number crunching applications have for processing power. The Cell is the “Wicked Smart ” 1 technology at the heart of Sony’s Playstation 3 TM. The Cell contains a number of specialist synergistic processor units (SPUs) optimised for multimedia processing and offer a rich programming interface to applications that can make use of the vector processing capabilities. The specialised hardware design for gaming will always deliver performance gains compared to a more generic processor for its specific domain. Multi-precision number manipulation for use in cryptography is a considerable distance away from this domain. This paper explores the implementation and performance gains when using the vector processing capabilities for SSL and shows that big improvements are still possible with the hardware designed primarily for other purposes. 1 Why SSL? Despite huge gains in computing performance and bandwidth, the widespread use of secure communications on the Internet is still essentially limited to SSL connections for password logins or with credit card payments. Despite this SSL implementations are widely distributed and well analysed for security weaknesses making it the de-facto standard for secure communications. The main reason for such limited usage is the perception that encrypted communication protocol

Year: 2012
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