As more devices enter the market and drive exponential growth of data in the cloud, cloud computing is going through a significant overhaul. The increasing presence of “hyperscale” cloud providers for big data and analytics, 5G for rapid IoT connectivity, and the wide use of AI for natural data processing and for extracting insights, are compounding both the amount of connected data and the data vulnerability.
To keep up with the rapid data growth, designers are driving innovation in interface and storage technologies to support increased capacity and performance, as well as more acceleration and new compute architectures. High-speed interfaces like PCI Express® (PCIe®) 5.0/6.0 and Compute Express Link™ (CXL™) 2.0 are proliferating:
- Faster data rates for cloud-based computing systems are setting the stage for PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 6.0, which are replacing PCIe 4.0 interfaces
- Storage/SSDs are moving to PCIe 5.0/6.0 interfaces
- Data centers that typically deal with many bandwidth-hungry devices and vast shared memory pools are moving to CXL 2.0 interfaces
How can system architects protect cloud data that contain confidential, sensitive, or critical information that can be corrupted, replaced, modified, or stolen by malicious actors? I/O interconnects need to implement security from the start of the design. With limited security, attackers might aim to profit from the secrets learned, interfere with the operations of a targeted company, or obstruct a government agency. The types of hacks differ in nature and continue to evolve, like attacks from malicious peripherals delivered over PCIe links, or root access attacks to access memory of other processes to capture secrets and/or alter code execution.
In addition, the industry is faced with increasing laws and regulations such as:
- GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation) in Europe that imposes steep fines on corporations if private user data is compromised
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the US that stipulates how Personally Identifiable Information (PII) maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and many others
As the attacks become more sophisticated, the security standards have to continuously adapt to better protect sensitive data and communications and ultimately protect our connected world. To this end, the PCI-SIG and CXL standards organizations added security requirements like Integrity and Data Encryption to PCIe 5.0 and CXL 2.0 specifications in late 2020, and PCIe 6.0 in early 2022. Security is expected to continue to be adopted for the next generation PCIe 7.0 and CXL 3.0 interconnects as well.