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Intel’s New Accelerated Memory Scanning Feature Uses Your GPU To Look For Malware And Other Viruses

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Following the Meltdown and Spectre controversy last year, Intel is making steps to enhance security from malware and other types of viruses.

Intel will soon allow virus scanners to make use of integrated graphics chipsets to scan for malicious attacks. Because GPUs will do most of the work, this move could potentially enhance performance and battery life on some systems.

"With Accelerated Memory Scanning, the scanning is handled by Intel's integrated graphics processor, enabling more scanning, while reducing the impact on performance and power consumption," said Intel's VP for platform security division Rick Echevarria. Initial benchmark tests yielded a massive decrease in CPU utilization when this feature was turned on — from 20 percent to as little as 2 percent.

Intel To Offload Virus Scanning To GPU

Most of Intel's modern processors will support Threat Detection Technology, including sixth, seventh, and eighth-generation models, enabling the GPU to take some of the processing power allocated for virus scanning. The current setup is much different. The strain of scanning is usually put on the CPU, meaning the machine could see lessened performance as a result, since a chunk of the processor is being used for the job.

Giving this job to the GPU will ease the CPU, needless to say. Which also means battery performance might improve, according to Intel. The company is entering a partnership with Microsoft to roll out this feature, which is headed to Windows Defender Advanced Protection Threat this month.

Intel Security Essentials

Intel is going to congest new security features under the umbrella term "Security Essentials," which will represent a common suite of hardware security features, firmware that enable them, and software libraries that make use of them. Some Atom, Core, and Xeon-branded hardware will be able to support Security Essentials, meaning any software running on these architectures will be able to utilize Intel's hardware-based security improvements.

Aside from changes to software, Intel has also announced that it will change the fundamental design of its chips so as to prevent incidents such as Meltdown and Spectre — where vulnerabilities inside Intel's chip design were found to be easily exploited to perform a number of harmful of things, such as acquiring sensitive data — from ever happening again the future. Some of the changes include secure boot and hardware protections to safeguard applications from potential attacks. Again, these changes are hardware-based, meaning the physical makeup of the chip will have actual differences from previous designs.

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