RSA - AEP looks to ease encryption with two products

Web servers used for e-commerce, financial services and other tasks that make intensive use of SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption are often slowed by having to devote processor time to decrypt, interpret and process encrypted traffic. Irish firm Accelerated Encryption Processing Inc. (AEP) is among a handful of companies that thinks it has a solution for these problems. AEP has two new encryption-processing products it is announcing in anticipation of the RSA Security conference to be held in San Jose, California the week of Feb. 18.

On Monday, AEP announced the release of its Shared Encryption Processor appliance, as well as plans to sample its new AEP10K encryption processing chip.

The Shared Encryption Processor is an appliance which houses as many as four of AEP's AEP2000 encryption processing boards, according to William Connor, vice president of marketing and strategic alliances at AEP. When the Shared Encryption Processor is placed into a network, all servers on that network can share the appliance's processing power when SSL-encrypted traffic is sent, he said. AEP claims that a single box with four AEP2000 cards can handle as many as 8,000 SSL transactions per second. Because the appliance can be clustered -- as many as 16 of the devices can be made to work together -- AEP claims as many as 128,000 SSL transactions can be processed every second, according to Connor.

The appliance is not sold directly to customers, however, but is rather made available to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and systems integrators, who then offer their own products based on AEP's, Connor said. Software is also included in the package to help vendors build their products, he added.

The Shared Encryption Processor, which is available immediately, supports the Windows and Linux platforms and Web servers such as Microsoft Corp.'s IIS (Internet Information Services) and Apache, he said. The recommended retail price of the device is around US$3,500, he said, though he would not disclose the prices that OEMs pay.

The company also took the wraps off its newest encryption processing chip set, the AEP10K. The AEP10K is the next step up from the chips that power the AEP2000, a PCI (peripheral computer interconnect) board-based encryption processor that Connor calls the company's "flagship product."

The AEP10K is a new ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) around which OEMs and systems integrators will be able to build encryption processing products, Connor said. The chip is built using a .18 micron process and can connect into PCI, PC Card or network processor interfaces, he said.

AEP claims that the AEP10K chip can handle in excess of 10,000 encryption transactions per second.

The chip will begin testing in the second quarter of 2002, with OEMs getting it later in the quarter, Connor said. The chip will support Windows, Linux, Solaris and HP-UX, as well as the same Web servers that the Shared Encryption Processor does, though the AEP10K also adds support for the iPlanet Web server, Connor said. Pricing details were not immediately available.

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