With the launch of the Intel(R) Xeon(R) 5600 series, out came the built-in Intel(R) AES New Instructions for protecting data in-flight and data at rest.
Intel(R) AES-NI serves to encrypt/decrypt each round of the AES algorithm, generate next key, mix column, carryless multiply in hardware. The benefit is not only in the reduction of side-channel attacks, but also in the reduction of performance overhead which allows encryption to take place where not possible before.
At fall 2009 IDF, we published instruction level, crypto algorithm level, and SSL session level performance data. Many in the industry have been anxiously waiting for the application level performance data of the three usage models - web banking workload, database, and full disk encryption (FDE). Intel measurements have shown that with a web banking workload, Intel Xeon 5600 series can support 23% more concurrent users than Intel Xeon 5500 series without encryption. Oracle 11g database decryption time using a series of focused operation like insert, delete, retrieve, has been reduced by 89%. Using the already launched McAfee endpoint protection software, first time drive provisioning time has been reduced by 42%. Checkpoint and Microsoft bitlocker are some of the other Intel AES-NI enabled FDE products that have launched.
For the server FDE usage case, some argue that server disks are less susceptible to theft than laptop theft, hence the need for it is less. However, NARA (National Archives and Records Administration)'s RAID setup data loss case proves it's equally important to have the "last line of defense" with enterprise FDE. From the preliminary studies to date, there is performance benefit associated with multi-threaded enterprise FDE applications for RAID and storage boxes as well.
How can an ISV utilize these instructions? One can leverage OS crypto libraries such as Microsoft's crypto new generation (CNG), the upcoming Linux distributions libraries, etc. Or one can use 3rd party libraries such as Intel(R) Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP) crypto library, openSSL, NSS, and the upcoming RSA bsafe. Lastly, ISVs can choose to hand optimize with Intel AES-NI and recompile using Intel, Microsoft, or GCC compilers.
For more information on the quest to a bigger ecosystem, please visit this link http://www.intel.com/Assets/en_US/PDF/whitepaper/Intel_AES-NI_White_Paper.pdf for the "Securing the Enterprise with Intel(R) AES-NI" whitepaper.