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Intel quietly ships Pentium D with DRM

Lips sealed on how it works

Intel has helped Microsoft and the entertainment industry take another step towards their aim of controlling copyright through the motherboard by 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 unauthorised copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard rather than through the operating system as is currently the case.

While Intel steered clear of mentioning the new DRM technology at its launch of the new products in Australia, Intel's Australian technical manager Graham Tucker publicly confirmed that Microsoft-flavoured DRM technology will be a feature of Pentium D and 945.

However, Tucker ducked questions regarding technical details of how embedded DRM would work saying it was not in the interests of his company to spell out how the technology.

The situation presents an interesting dilemma for IT security managers as they may now be beholden to hardware-embedded security over which they have little say, information or control.

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.


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