things about 1994-era intel you might not know

The period 1993-1996 was formative for intel. It was ALL about crypto, and the evolving commodity market.

19903 was the start of the period in which everyone knew that crypto was about to fundamentally change the nature of the PC. And Intel Corporation folks thinking about the next few generations of intel chip FEATURES and MANUFACTURING techniques were hard at work predicting the future. Its also the period when me, my neighbor, and half the rest of silicon valleys security types were associated with the capstone chip – the core of NSA micro for etching on the die that went into the likes of Fortezza cards. Intel had to decide if the future of the PC was in co-processors for crypto (on the likes of NSA PC/PCMCIA cards) or in Intel cores Intel motherboards, or Intel co-processors on their ethernet NIC cards. Intel had to worry about smartcard-based security cores, too – wondering if the “keyboard” (and its smartcard reader) would be the trust point for the PC, alternatively.

Unfortunately, it would not be honerable to say much more. Bt there is lots of technical stuff be said about that period.Concerning personal stuff (that I can reveal), it was fun working with our investor “Intel” in the founding of VeriSign. As Chief Architect (at that early time), I got to work directly with the venture arm of intel and its architecture lab folks, visiting them several times up in Washington. It was all about predicting the future, and ensuring the role of the chipsets “had the right features”.

Now, folks may also know that by 1998 firm such as Trend were working AT THE BIOS level to inspect data flows. (Hint.) With intel’s blessing, the ROLE of the bios was morphing from a micro-code repository for motherboards into an “active” part of the management plane of motherboards. In 1998 era motherboards, these was the only viable place to – at THAT time – get remotely-programmable code into the motherboard/PC – based on DIRECT INTERATION between the ethernet and the BIOS flash. Later, this had to extend to any ethernet-like layer 2.5 channel, including wifi/bluetooth. Of course, ALL such functions, regardless of wireless technology, are made in ONE chip nowadays, by Intel.

Intel are still investing and thinking. Now they own a significant SSO firm. They of course bought the rest of McAfee – which is mostly about PLACING trust points on corporate networks – by which to PROJECT control.

Back in the UK, of course HP was busy at work subverting the PC, in their Bristol labs. Folks wanted the trusted boot, and the hardware trust point. More later on the HP –> Intel interaction, or, as better put, the UK/US interaction on designing PC for crypto.

for modern stuff, that is rather telling,


About home_pw

Computer Programmer who often does network administration with focus on security servers. Sometimes plays at slot machine programming.
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