SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle has said that its upcoming M7 chip will be able to prevent attacks like the Heartbleed bug by building security into the silicon.
Oracle fleshed out more details of its upcoming M7 chip and its associated Software in Silicon technology at the firm's Openworld show in San Francisco.
The silicon will include Application Data Integrity (ADI) technology, aimed at securing applications and databases at the memory level in the hardware, according to John Fowler, Oracle executive vice president.
"As we go to these large in-memory databases, and large and complex applications, malformed or poorly written applications or somebody malicious who wants to compromise an application can actually do so relatively easily because the memory of the system in a single process or process group is not protected," he said.
"The idea here was relatively simple and proposed by the database group - let's produce a memory protection capability so that the memory in the system is protected from either bad coding or true maleficence on the part of a worker.
"Whenever memory is allocated, you have a key and you cannot redirect memory without that key. For a large and complex application, you’ll find that this actually finds a lot of problems."
One of the major problems ADI could have solved was the Heartbleed bug, Fowler said.
"The Heartbleed bug, which is a bug in OpenSSL that is bad enough to have a brand name, is a very simple idea. On the server side, there's an application in networking that returns a 'hello are you alive' request.
"The client is allowed to ask for the amount of data, and this bug has been there forever because the server side never checked the amount it was asked for.
"And somebody discovered that you can just keep asking for more. In a classic programming error called point array out of bounds, we were just retrieving memory and sending it back, which means you can get all kinds of good stuff. ADI prevents Heartbleed. You cannot return a result from points array out of bounds."
ADI will feature in the upcoming M7 processor, and will be included in all future Sparc processors. The latest version of the Solaris operating system already supports the M7, and Fowler said that Linux will be able to run on Sparc at some point, though he declined to give a specific timeframe.
While the M7 chip will not ship until 2015, Oracle has opened the Software in Silicon technology to developers to beta test in the cloud. Oracle Software in Silicon Cloud offers a virtual machine environment to install, test and improve code. According to Oracle, it gives results up to 80 times faster than software-only tools and lets developers get detailed diagnostics to improve their code.
Oracle also said that Silicon in Software increases the usable memory and speeds up in-memory database query processing by working on data streamed directly from memory with speeds up to 160GBps.
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