Intel Makes a Digital Coin Tosser for Future Processors

An all-digital random-number generator will help keep encryption strong and data safe for chips with features 45 nanometers and smaller

2 min read

29 June 2010—Random-number generators make cryptography possible, thereby making safe digital communication possible, but because the generators rely on analog components, they are notoriously difficult to reduce in size. Engineers at Intel’s Circuit Research Lab, in Hillsboro, Ore., bet they could build one without the analog parts using the complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) processes that will soon be turning out chips with feature sizes as small as 32 nanometers (and eventually 22 nm).

At the VLSI Symposium earlier this month in Honolulu, the Intel researchers revealed they were close to winning that bet. They reported that they had made an all-digital version of a random-number generator using the 45-nm CMOS process that has been used to build Intel processors since 2007. ”Historically, RNGs have been analog,” says Greg Taylor, director of the Circuit Research Lab. ”But porting to smaller technology nodes [with analog devices] requires a lot of fine-tuning that is unnecessary with digital versions.”

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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