TCPA - build your own hardware
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Thread: TCPA - build your own hardware

  1. #1
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    TCPA - build your own hardware

    What is TCPA?
    Against TCPA
    TCPA stands for Trusted Computing Platform Alliance. For the technology we will speak from TCP (The trusted computing platform). This plans that every computer will have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), also known as Fritz-Chip, built-in. At later development stages, these functions will be directly included into CPUs, graphiccards, harddisks, soundcards, bios and so on. This will secure that the computer is in a TCPA-conform state and that he checks that it's always in this state. This means: On the first level comes the hardware, on the second comes TCPA and then comes the user. The complete communication works with a 2048 bit strong encryption, so it's also secure enough to make it impossible to decrypt this in realtime for a longer time. This secures that the TCPA can prevent any unwanted software and hardware. The long term result will be that it will be impossible to use hardware and software that's not approved by the TCPA.
    IBM TCPA specs
    TCPA FAQ
    No TCPA
    Senator "Fritz"

    The solution? Build your own hardware: processor, chipset, ram, video card,... Impossible? Maybe...

    Let's take a little trip through history.
    In 1947, the first transistor was demonstrated.
    To build our own processor, it's obvious that we'll need transistors... lots of them. All bit-processes can be realized with a series of NAND- and NOR ports, and a couple of invertors (I'm using the inverted AND and OR ports: an AND-switch can only be made by combining a NAND and an invertor, which costs more transistors).
    Now... it takes 1006 to add up two 32 bit numbers. Via the Two's Complement-rule, substraction can be added to our 'processor'. Multiplying is just a series of addition sums, division is just a series of substractions.
    This is exactly what Intel's 4004-processor, invented in 1971, did (only 4 bits though). The 4004 only had 2300 transistors at a speed of 108 kHz (new P4's have about 55 million transistors...).
    The basis for our own 'processor' will be an FPGA, a Field Programmable Gate Array. Current FPGA's contain up to 8 million gates (NAND, NOR and invertors), that is as complex as a Pentium III. The VHDL-language has been designed especially for FPGA-programming.
    Source code to build your own 32-bit RISC processor is freely available, and so are chipset-, NIC-, video card-,... codes.

    Complicated? Sure. The reason I wrote this is to show that all it takes to build your own hardware is some common electronics and a programming language. The day TCPA becomes the standard, I'm gonna build my own stuff. I won't accept hardware that limits my freedom, or hardware that hands my ass to Big Brother on a plate.

    To show you that this really can be done, here's my favourite ever computer (the Commodore 64), completely build using FPGA's (a 2002 enhanced adaptation of the Commodore 64... w00t).
    Up yours, Senator Fritz.

    This post is based on a Henk van de Kramer-article in PC Active.

  2. #2
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    Im with you on that we should have our own free choise. And also it would be a intresting learning experieance but if everyone decided to build there own there would alot of information it so it would become even easyer.
    If its not broken it can still be inproved.

  3. #3
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    Interesting link to the Commodore One info. I miss my C64...

    Seems to me that if the TCPA were enacted it would only affect the US. The rest of the world would most likely sit back and laugh at us.

    It would create a thriving black market in off-shore computer parts through which we would be able to build systems that did not incorporate this "new technology".

    All a law like this would do is put a major hurt on US Computer companies.

  4. #4
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    Seems to me that if the TCPA were enacted it would only affect the US. The rest of the world would most likely sit back and laugh at us. ...

    All a law like this would do is put a major hurt on US Computer companies.
    I don't think so. http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html seems to indicate that it's not US specific and that there are major computer manufacturers backing this, naming two of the biggest: Microsoft and Intel.

    It'll be good for corporations (helps keep out the illegal software that isn't wanted/needed) but could be determental for the regular user who is playing around and/or experimenting.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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    OOPS

    You are correct Ms Mittens.

    I got sidetracked by the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) link in the original post. The CBDTA legislation is definately US only and would IMO do just what I described above.

    The TCPA standard is a different bag altogether (or at least an industry supported alternative). It looks like the plan is to roll this out over time. I guess they think we will not notice?

  6. #6
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Well, there has been some notice, particularly of Palladium. Microsoft's portion of this has gotten a fair amount of attention but a lot of people don't seem to be interested in asking more about it. I think the reason is because they are still waiting to see if MS will be around in its present form when Palladium comes out.

    I think there is too much of a push to use technology to get the answers we want in regards to security. Our weaknesses isn't technology per say but rather the human element. We need to encourage more security in the minds of admins and give them the help they need. Companies are looking to tech only because it's cheaper. What they fail to realize is that in the long run, having a stronger human element will result in cheaper security.

    Here's Microsoft's view of it.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  7. #7
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    I'm always wary of the sensationalism found in news organizations these days, so I went and found Senator Holling's website to hear about the issue from his perspective. Unfortunately, his perspective matches up pretty well with the article's description. Score one for Hollywood if this things makes it through.

    Senator Holling's Website:
    http://hollings.senate.gov/features_broadband.html

    The Actual Bill in the Senate:
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:s.02048:

    Edit: His discussion in the Confidence section seems fairly reasonable. I don't know what he was smoking when he moved on to the Demand section. I don't particularly understand the Accessibility section either. If I understand correctly, my tax dollars are paying for grants so that Joe Blow in Montana can get a cable modem?

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