Intel (INTC) Adds Security Features to Upcoming Xeon Platform

Intel INTC added a slew of new security features to its forthcoming third-generation Xeon Scalable Platform (dubbed as Ice Lake) to enable customers to speed up development of innovative solutions that boost data security.

The chipmaker has added Intel Total Memory Encryption (TME), Intel Platform Firmware Resilience (PFR) and new cryptographic accelerators along with Intel Software Guard Extension (SGX) across the whole third generation Xeon platform.

Markedly, Intel’s SGX is a set of hardware security attributes that deploy encryption to safeguard enclaves, which are private regions of memory unit, even when the memory is processed actively.

Intel Corporation Price and Consensus

Intel Corporation Price and Consensus

Intel Corporation price-consensus-chart | Intel Corporation Quote

SGX adds more security by lessening the area vulnerable to attack in a computer system. It augments confidential computing, which is of immense importance in verticals that manage sensitive data like healthcare and finance.

Confidential computing involves safeguarding of data, while being processed in a hardware-centered Trusted Execution Environment. It denies any unauthorised access to in-use applications and the stored data.

We anticipate the new product enhancements will boost adoption of Intel’s Xeon processors.

This, in turn, is expected to aid the semiconductor giant strengthen its competitive position in the market against other chipmakers including Advanced Micro Devices AMD.

It must be noted that, in July 2020, AMD’s EPYC processors’ Secure Encrypted Virtualization feature was utilised by Google Cloud’s latest Confidential Virtual Machines (VMs) to help customers encrypt sensitive data not only when it is at rest, but also while it is being processed.

Robust Features to Drive Adoption

Intel’s TME feature is capable of encrypting data (personal information and customer credentials) accessed via its processors from various hardware attacks.

By adding PFR security attribute to the Ice Lake processors, customers can protect data from firmware attacks. The PFR technology can identify and fix any firmware security threat before it can disengage the system. Firmware components like BMC Flash, Intel Management Engine, SPI Descriptor, BIOS Flash, and power supply firmware can be provided with increased security layers using PFR, added Intel.

The company also added cryptographic accelerators to the Ice Lake processors to offer customers improved security without negatively impacting the processor speed. Intel infused latest innovations in its accelerators that include fusing of two algorithms to run in combination as well as sequentially, thereby allowing simultaneous execution.

The enhanced security features are expected to fuel the adoption of upcoming Xeon Scalable processors and bolster the company’s revenues in the quarters ahead.

Abundant Market Prospects

Increasing risk of sophisticated cyber attacks and malware boosts demand for robust hardware security capabilities. Moreover, the growing need for efficient, cloud-capable and secure data storage solutions adds to this demand.

Per Gartner data, most of the enterprise customers will continue to grapple with managing cloud risks through 2024 while 99% of security breaches will be owing to the client’s mistakes, through 2025. 

Coronavirus crisis-triggered work-from-home wave has triggered demand for server chips that are utilized in the data centers from the cloud-based service providers and hyperscalers. This favors the prospects of the new processors infused with latest security upgrades.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

At present, Intel carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks worth considering in the broader sector are Zoom Video Communications ZM and Qorvo QRVO, both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for Zoom Video and Qorvo is pegged at 25% and 12.4%, respectively.

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