Log-Based Software Execution
Traditional virus scanners and other malware detection software constantly need updating to keep up with the constant stream of new ways hackers try to infiltrate your computer. This is a fundamentally flawed method as it relies on a post-outbreak cure rather than active prevention so there's always some victims. Also, it's annoying to have to wait for your virus scanner to download the latest updates every day.
So, what's the solution?
Well, according to Intel, it's to use the 'spare' cores on future processors to run, what it calls, Lifeguards. These programs proactively monitor other programs looking for peculiar actions that might suggest an attack taking place. It then blocks further execution and, hopefully, prevents the attack succeeding.
The focus of the research is on preventing remote attacks exploiting the oft talked about holes in software that allow an attacker to gain a degree of control over your PC (or more to the point, a web server), rather than on locally executed viruses. So, if someone plugs a USB memory stick into your computer and runs a program that does your computer harm then this solution isn't going to prevent that kind of attack. But, then you shouldn't be letting that happen anyway.
As with most of the demos on show, this is far from being a final product so it's difficult to know how well it will work in the real world. It's definitely a long leap in the right direction, though.
While all this development was very interesting, there was one overriding question on everyone's lips. That of when will we see products based on the Tera-scale concept and what form will they take. To this end, there were lots of whispered conversations that mentioned the name Larabee.
Larabee is the codename for an upcoming CPU that, if rumours are to be believed, will be the first Tera-scale processor. Of course Intel was very careful not to give anything solid away about it but we were able to glean a few titbits from what was and, more often, wasn't said.
There were hints that 32 cores may be the magic number and it may feature a combination of traditional cores and accelerators on the same die. It also may be the first commercially available teraflop processor. To enable all this power to fit on a small enough chip, the manufacturing process will probably have moved from the current 45nm down to 32nm or maybe even 22nm. Of course, clock speeds, amounts of cache memory, and all the other specifics are completely unknown at the moment but, regardless, if this is the future of processor design, I can't wait!
There were many other devices, and software tools being demonstrated that take advantage of the upcoming power of multi-core CPUs but the majority of them are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that, almost anything you could think of with regards to performance, power, and features was being addressed.