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20 July 2010, 14:03

TrueCrypt 7.0 adds hardware-accelerated AES

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TrueCrypt logo The TrueCrypt development team have announced the release of version 7.0 of their open source, cross platform, disk encryption tool. According to the developers, this major update to their on-the-fly encryption tool includes several improvements, new features, security enhancements and bug fixes on all platforms.

Zoom Test results for AES Encryption / Decryption without hardware acceleration.
TrueCrypt 7.0 features a new 'Favorite Volumes Organizer' that lets users set various options for each favourite volume, support for hardware-accelerated AES encryption and support for devices that use sector sizes other than 512 bytes. Users can now configure a volume to be automatically mounted when its host device is connected to the users's system – assuming of course that the correct password or key-files are provided.

When testing the AES hardware acceleration on an Intel Core i5 650, running Fedora 13, The H's associates at heise Security found that simple AES Encryption and Decryption performance increased from a mean of 287 MBytes/s to 2 GBytes/s. When AES is combined with another unaccelerated algorithm, the results are, as expected, less dramatic: AES-Twofish throughput, for example, doubled from 150 to 270 MBytes/s.

Zoom Test results for AES Encryption / Decryption with hardware acceleration.
While the performance boost is remarkable, even the un-accelerated AES throughput is far beyond the bandwidth of modern hard disks (typical sustained throughput rates for SATA hard disks are around 100 MB/sec.). So, while the AES hardware acceleration won't have an obvious impact on overall system performance, it still frees CPU resources and potentially has some benefits on battery drain in mobile systems.

On Windows and Linux systems, partition / device-hosted volumes can now be created on drives that use a sector size of 4096, 2048, or 1024 bytes. The developers note that, previously only file-hosted volumes were supported on such drives. The new version also uses the official Windows API of Vista, and later, for encrypting hibernation files and crash dumps. Previous versions used their own, custom mechanism that relied on modifying internal Windows functions. Other changes include an updated 'Favorites' menu and the removal of support for device-hosted volumes located on floppy disks.

More details about the release, including a list of security improvements, can be found in the version history. TrueCrypt 7.0 is available to download for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X and Linux, and a Beginner's Tutorial is provided. TrueCrypt is released under the TrueCrypt License Version 3.0 and donations are accepted to support the project.


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