As we move into an age where our gadgets and technologies are becoming capable of performing a vast number of different operations and computations, we, at the same time, are expecting more and more of them. The sheer amount of data processing that occurs on a daily basis across the globe is a testament to both our technological ingenuity and the scale of our ambitions when it comes to our ability to compute.
While we continue to become increasingly connected to our technologies and each other, the amount of computing the processors that enable our gadgets and technologies have to do is rapidly increasing. This means that, eventually, the operational performance of these systems will be slowed down by amount of processing they have to do, causing issues for any programmed operations or human users.
With this in mind, several solutions have been proposed to tackle this challenge. One of the most popular and exciting of these proposed solutions is that of cryptographic acceleration and the use of coprocessors to assist CPUs in computing and processing and improve hardware performance.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at cryptographic acceleration and trying to understand why it is needed, how it works to improve hardware performance and whether there are any other benefits to using cryptographic acceleration.
Why Cryptographic Acceleration?
So, before we get to looking at how cryptographic acceleration works, let’s take a moment to understand why it is needed. With the rapid expansion of cryptographic operations and encryption services showing no signs of slowing down, cryptography has become an essential part of any cyber security system in both business and personal data protection.
Encryption services are quickly becoming a new standard in data security and many suppliers are quick to ensure that their systems are equipped with the latest cryptographic offerings in order to provide adequate protection for both data and transactions. As encryption and decryption services have steadily continued to become popular additions, the strength of encryption they offer has become the focus for many consumers.
While the vast majority of consumer computers are more than capable of providing cryptographic acceleration for the data of a single user, even the most powerful of general-purpose CPUs would struggle to adequately encrypt every transaction performed by a single system.
This is where cryptographic accelerators come in. By integrating specifically designed hardware or software solutions into compute-intensive environments such as heavily-loaded servers, cryptographic functions can be performed at improved speeds within most commercial computers.
How Does Cryptographic Acceleration Work?
Cryptographic acceleration works in a number of different ways depending on how it is being integrated and utilized. The most popular method of utilizing cryptographic acceleration is using it to speed up and enhance hardware performance by providing additional hardware for cryptographic functions to be performed in, as opposed to these kinds of algorithms being dealt with purely by software.
In order to understand cryptographic acceleration, one first needs to have a basic understanding of cryptography and encryption. Cryptography often involves the use of high-level mathematics in order to secure and hide information.
Data is encrypted at point A before being transmitted to the receiver at point B. The receiver of this information will have the decryption algorithm for the encrypted data so as to enable them to revert it back to a readable form.
Recently, over the last few years, developers have begun to design and develop hardware with separate cryptographic accelerators so that, in any instances in which cryptographic operations are required, these operations are separate from the CPU core and allow the processing cores within it to focus on other functions and operations so as to prevent them getting bogged down and suffering drops in their performance.
What Benefits Does It Bring?
As mentioned earlier, there are several benefits to introducing cryptographic acceleration into computing hardware depending on how you got about integrating these systems. Of course, for many, the biggest benefit to cryptographic acceleration is that it enables their computing hardware to focus on other operational aspects and this could help to provide a significant boost in hardware performance and operational ability.
Enhanced security is another benefit to be drawn from cryptographic acceleration. By utilising hardware or software that is not just specifically designed to function within such an environment but has also been rigorously tested by third parties to test the claims made my manufacturers with regards to its capabilities, computational resources can therefore be leveraged to security elements to provide enhanced security.
With encryption and decryption services become an increasingly popular options for both companies and public sector organizations, cryptographic acceleration may well become an increasingly common feature in network appliances and servers or could transform into an entire industry of its own.
With the race for even greater levels of connectivity fully underway, and with more and more digital communications and data requiring adequate levels of protection and security in the form of encryption, ways and means that enable businesses and individuals to reduce the strain on their CPUs while still getting the protection they require will likely continue to be popular solutions to problems such as these.