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October 22, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 7:30pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Cambridge, UK-based electronic commerce specialist nCipher Corporation Ltd is releasing the nFast line of hardware cryptographic accelerators, plug in hardware said to increase the speed of encrypted transactions on servers by up to ten times. Public key cryptography calculations are offloaded from the main CPU onto the nFast box, a server drive sized box connected to the main system via SCSI-2 port. The box contains custom ASIC chips and StrongARM RISC processors along with custom driven software algorithms. The package also includes a set of software drivers written to separate cryptographic programming interface calls from standard calls and re-direct them onto the co-processors. The hardware is compatible with standard security protocols, including Secure Socket Layer v2 and v3, SET, MIME, and Microsoft’s C-API, Netscape’s NSAPI, and Sun Solaris and Java’s ECF. It will connect to DEC, Sun, Intel, HP, IBM Silicon Graphics Unix servers, and to Intel-based NT servers. NCipher chief executive Officer Alex van Someren says he’s currently keeping the details of the technology under wraps while patent applications go through. The accelerators range in price from 1,900 pounds for box capable of 75 key calculations a second, to 9,375 pounds for the high end 300 per minute model. Up to seven boxes can be connected together in parallel, increasing performance to around 2,000 calculations per second. nCipher has been part funded by Newbridge Networks Inc, and has recently completed its second round of venture funding, raising a total investment of 2.5m pounds.

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