Compaq Speeds Encryption with New PCI Card

In an effort to reduce performance delays caused by the time taken to process secure, encrypted transactions, Compaq has introduced its AXL200 Accelerator PCI hardware, which basically redirects the encryption processing to an auxiliary card.

Many e-businesses experience a throughput bottleneck because Web servers must secure every transaction with intensive encryption processing. This strains server performance during heavy transaction periods.

The Compaq AXL200 Accelerator PCI card off-loads the encryption processing from the host CPU (central processing unit) by way of a hardware device that plugs in to any PCI slot, according to Compaq officials. Four hardware-based processors provide throughput capacity that "speeds the handshake between browser and server" while maintaining security within the corporate firewall, said a spokesperson for Compaq.

According to Compaq, the AXL200 accelerates processing of the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) information by up to 20 times, compared to transactions that are processed over the host CPU.

At a rate of 240 SSL connections per second, the AXL200 delivers at a cost of US$10 per SSL connection per second, or approximately one third the normal transaction cost, according to Compaq.

The AXL200 Accelerator PCI card runs on Intel-based servers running Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000, and is compatible with Sun Solaris 2.6 on Sparc systems. A Linux version is slated for future release, Compaq officials said.

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