(Article originally posted at InfoWorld Magazine)
Security is a topic that is getting more and more attention these days, and encryption plays a large role in security. However, those of us who have played with encryption know that it consumes a significant amount of system resources. If you are doing your encryption in software, you are most likely playing a catch-up game to your network speed (when encryption network traffic) and storage volume (when encrypting file system).
The tradition approach is to get an encryption card and drop it into your PCI slot. But have you checked out encryption built directly into the CPU? This is not exactly news, since VIA Technologies has been making CPU’s with encryption built-in since 2004. VIA processors with PadlLock has SHA1-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm), AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and random number generator all built into the hardware.
So how fast is hardware encryption? In this benchmark, you can see that a 1.2GHz VIA processor can encrypt about 5 to 16 times faster than a Pentium IV 2.4GHz. And in this benchmark, where the author tests against encrypted file system and IPSec connections, there is almost no slow down when doing IPSec with PadLock, and you only lose about 10% of performance when writing to encrypted file system. Compare that to software encryption where you are looking at roughly 50% to 80% loss in performance.