Intel’s just announced a pretty neat trick - the ability to use its integrated GPUs to help eliminate any potential malware without impacting CPU performance. This threat detection enhancement comes after Intel faced a lot of criticism for its Meltdown and Spectre security flaws earlier this year, and is one of these two new methods of threat detection announced today.
"Our value to the industry is really to understand how we can use our silicon to improve these outcomes," said Rick Echevarria, VP of Intel’s software and services group. "Malware is one of the fastest evolving workloads we're dealing with. It's evolving to evade threat detection."
Intel’s new tech has been dubbed Accelerated Memory Scanning, and it’s designed to mitigate the pig-headed malware that can make its home directly within PC RAM memory in order to avoid detection. Accelerated Memory Scanning moves the bulk of the workload of malware scanning from the CPU to the onboard GPU. Not only is this faster, it’s also more power efficient.
During Intel’s own tests, CPU utilisation reduced from 20% down to just 2 percent as a result of this, while power consumption dropped by 52 percent. The effectiveness of this technique depends upon whether the GPU is already in use with other processes, but in optimum conditions, Intel saw a 90% reduction in processor usage.
Unfortunately, the technique only really works with integrated Intel graphics chips, not dedicated graphics cards. This is because an iGPU has unfettered access to the system RAM while GPUs run through a PCI Express interconnect. If you’ve got a dedicated graphics card along with an Intel CPU and iGPU however, the iGPU could handle malware scanning without an impact on overall performance.
Intel Accelerated Memory Scanning will be made available as an Intel driver update.
The second security tech that Intel announced is Intel Advanced Platform Telemetry. This is of less use to ordinary users but it allows for hardware diagnostic data to be shared with Intel’s machine learning systems in order to improve the detection of advanced threats.