[rescue] sun des chips

Per Sandstrom psand at mac.com
Fri Oct 22 14:25:28 CDT 2004

Try "man des" and "man 4 des" on a SunOS 4 machine - software support 
for an AmZ8068 Data Ciphering Processor (DCP), made by AMD, is 
certainly there. This device was only supported on Sun-3, Sun-3x and 
Sun-4 systems (the original sun4 architecture).

There is a related and quite entertaining bug report in SunSolve:

	"Bug Id:     1107024
  	Synopsis:  man page for des(1) contains humorous but inflamatory
	Description: The man page for des(1) contains the following text
	in section RESTRICTIONS

		Software encryption is disabled for programs shipped outside
		of the U.S.  The program will still be able to encrypt files
		if one can obtain an encryption chip, legally or otherwise.

  	While this is intended to be funny, the concern is that the State or
  	Defence departments may interpret this as an endorsement (or
	encouragement) by Sun for users to illegally "obtain an 
encryption chip".

  	FYI: Encryption chips are no longer supported on SparcStations."

I googled to find more evidence, found several questions, but no 
traces of real-life experience with these chips. My guess is that 
they were never released on the open market, not even in the U.S. 
They might have been deployed in Sun systems sold to the U.S. 
Government though.

I'll round off with a quote from Steve Melvin in newsgroup comp.arch 
15 August 1989:

	"Apparently, Sun at one time had intended to sell a data encryption
	option for these machines.  The encryption chip provided for was the
	AMD Am9518 (which implements the official data encryption standard
	(DES)).  In the 3/50 and 3/60, all that was needed was to plug the chip
	in (and move a jumper in the case of the 3/50) but in later 
models chips
	needed to drive the 9518 (one or two PALs and a buffer) were not
	supplied on the motherboard.  The idea was apparently dropped and as
	far as we know the DES option has never been made available. 
It probably
	had a lot to do with the Feds (the DES chip is supposedly not 
allowed to
	be exported from the US).  Having the socket enabled by a PAL may have
	had something to do with controlling the use of the DES chip."

Isn't it fun with archaeology? Does anyone know more?


More information about the rescue mailing list