Seagate's Momentus 5400 FDE - Real Time Hardware HDD Encryption

Seagate was proudly displaying their Momentus 5400 FDE (Full-Disk Encryption), a 2.5" hard drive with an ASIC on the PCB that performs real time encryption and decryption of data on the drive from the minute you plug it in.

Seagate claims that the encryption/decryption ASIC imposes no performance penalty on the drive itself, even during times of peak sequential transfer rates.

The encryption engine is active when you first turn on the drive and begin using it, although no encryption key is generated (the drive comes with a factory-installed key that is inaccessible by the user). A derivative key (not the actual encryption key) can be generated by manually setting the ATA password field, the password is cryptographically combined with the encryption key to create a derivative key that is stored in non-addressable memory, making the encryption key accessible. Wave Systems' Embassy security center was on display as an application that could be used to manage security settings of the FDE drive:

Software like Embassy can make backing up and gaining access to encrypted disks on different computers possible and seamless.

Seagate plans to ship the Momentus 5400 FDE in the first quarter of next year, although no pricing information has been announced. As of now Seagate is only committing to releasing the drive, any third party security software would have to be purchased separately.

Intel's BTX, Back at the Show


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  • Questar - Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - link

    The 5-10 year part is speculation of Anand. Intel never said it would take that long. I'll bet two years. It doesn't take 5 years to write a compiler or add a chip feature. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - link

    The Intel rep that did the demo was the one that provided the 5 - 10 year estimate. This research is in its very early stages, but the promising first results means it will probably get more support.

    Take care,
  • drpepper128 - Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - link

    Is it just me or are we missing something here?
    To me it seems that the real power of Mitosis is that companies would not have to worry about writing code that is mult-threaded. Instead they can have single-threaded code and use the compiler to multi-thread it. This is where the real power of multi-core processors could come from. Some day when we have 100 core processors we will need something like a compiler to figure things out for us; otherwise a company's costs would skyrocket. Think somewhere along the lines of graphics cards.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - link

    I was thinking if they could get Mitosis into the chips (rather than required compiler support) then it would benefit practically *any* application. The only time it wouldn't help performance would be when your CPU was either fully loaded on every core, or perhaps if the multiple threads start using up resources that could be better used on stuff other than speculative execution. Reply

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