• United States
Executive Editor

PC servers to get VPN boost

Jan 21, 20032 mins

* Vendors work to include encryption processor on PC server motherboard

PC hardware may finally be catching up to VPN software. ABIT Computer and Cavium Networks are teaming up to make a PC server motherboard that includes a dedicated encryption processor, meaning higher VPN performance without taxing the server’s CPU.

For end users, this should mean lower prices for PC-based VPN gateways that include hardware acceleration. With no encryption processor built into the motherboard, the current alternative for hardware encryption is installing a separate card to offload the encryption functions. This method is more expensive than building the processor into the motherboards, Cavium President and CEO Syed Ali says.

The big difference between PC-based VPN gateways and appliances built specifically as gateways is the encryption processor. With a lower cost way to include this feature, PC-based appliances may be able to cut in on the existing custom appliances. More competition can only mean better prices for end users.

These new server options will also have the flexibility to support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The Cavium chips can support either IPSec or SSL or both at the same time. So with the proper software on a one of these servers, the device could support both IPSec VPN connections and SSL connections. Array Networks already uses Cavium chips in its SSL gear.

If installing security chips on motherboards takes hold in the server market, perhaps soon it will also become popular on PCs, where offloading VPN encryption processing could improve the performance of VPNs for those connecting from home or roving about with laptops.