Nvidia builds firewall on PC motherboard

Motherboard chipsets don't normally excite much attention in the security world, but Nvidia's nForce4 could turn out to be the exception.

Better known for its graphics chips, Nvidia has become the first to release a motherboard controller that makes it possible to build a hardware firewall within a PC itself.

The catch is that the new PCI-based chipset will only work with AMD Athlon 64, 64 FX and Sempron processors. Consequently, the company expects that nForce4 will be aimed at higher-end applications such as gaming in its initial roll-out. It is not clear whether the chipset will be made to work in Intel systems at a later date.

Although software firewalls are effective on PCs, the nForce4 "ActiveArmor" protection engine claims to carry out its security routines without hindering the performance of the PC, acting as an "accelerated" co-processor. This should improve system performance by unburdening the main CPU from having to process network traffic.

ActiveArmor's firewall functions look fairly standard, and include packet inspection, port filtering, and other anti-hacking features as well as remote administration which is a must for IT departments.

More interesting to corporates in the light of recent history will be the application filtering features of what Nvidia has dubbed "Intelligent Application Manager" (IAM). This, it is claimed, will stop Trojans hijacking the PC to use as a server and will perform sophisticated monitoring of outbound as well as inbound application traffic.

The chipset has been released in three versions. The mid-level "Ultra", which is likely to be the most popular, comes with an integrated firewall, and support for 3GB serial RAID (including advanced failover detection), and will add approximately US$100-$150 to the price of a motherboard, the company indicated.

The US$200 high-end nForce4 SLI was identical but included a technology called Scalable Link Interface (SLI), a means of running two graphics cards in one system to boost graphics performance. The entry-level US$55 nForce relied on cut-down software-based firewall features and lacked the SLI, but will come with a lower performance version of the RAID support.

The company said it expected the chipset's price to reduce as volumes increased in the coming months.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?