May 28th, 2005

Tall ships (porthole)

Microsoft, Intel, and DRM

This is just... wrong...

Intel quietly adds DRM to new chips

Microsoft and the entertainment industry's holy grail of controlling copyright through the motherboard has moved a step closer with Intel Corp. now embedding digital rights management within in its latest dual-core processor Pentium D and accompanying 945 chipset.

Officially launched worldwide on the May 26, the new offerings come DRM-enabled and will, at least in theory, allow copyright holders to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard rather than through the operating system as is currently the case.

"[The] 945g [chipset] supports DRM, it helps implement Microsoft's DRM ... but it supports DRM looking forward," Tucker said, adding the DRM technology would not be able to be applied retrospectively to media or files that did not interoperate with the new technology.

It's bad enough that just about everything has copy prevention on it now (to the point where it inteferes with legitimate uses of the poduct), but the last thing we need is a lock-down at the hardware level. And the Microsoft tie-in sounds very like an abuse of a monopoly to me.

But wait! There's more:

Conversely, Intel is heavily promoting what it calls "active management technology" (AMT) in the new chips as a major plus for system administrators and enterprise IT. Understood to be a sub-operating system residing in the chip's firmware, AMT will allow administrators to both monitor or control individual machines independent of an operating system.

Additionally, AMT also features what Intel calls "IDE redirection" which will allow administrators to remotely enable, disable or format or configure individual drives and reload operating systems and software from remote locations, again independent of operating systems. Both AMT and IDE control are enabled by a new network interface controller.

Hmm, so armed with just a network connection you can get low-level access to a computer's hard disks. There's going to be a nice uproar from people working with sensitive information over this. The last thing I want is some random hacker remotely formatting my hard disk.

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