Intel, Microsoft collaborate on DPRIVE
On March 8, Intel announced that it has signed an agreement with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to perform in its Data Protection in Virtual Environments (DPRIVE) program. The program aims to develop an accelerator for fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). Microsoft is the key cloud ecosystem and homomorphic encryption partner leading the commercial adoption of the technology once developed by testing it in its cloud offerings, including Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft JEDI cloud, with the U.S. government. The multiyear program represents a cross-team effort across multiple Intel groups, including Intel Labs, the Design Engineering Group and the Data Platforms Group, to tackle “the final frontier” in data privacy, which is computing on fully encrypted data without access to decryption keys.
“Fully homomorphic encryption remains the holy grail in the quest to keep data secure while in use. Despite strong advances in trusted execution environments and other confidential computing technologies to protect data while at rest and in transit, data is unencrypted during computation, opening the possibility of potential attacks at this stage. This frequently inhibits our ability to fully share and extract the maximum value out of data. We are pleased to be chosen as a technology partner by DARPA and look forward to working with them as well as Microsoft to advance this next chapter in confidential computing and unlock the promise of fully homomorphic encryption for all,” said Rosario Cammarota, principal engineer, Intel Labs, and principal investigator, DARPA DPRIVE program.
FHE adoption in the industry has been slow because processing data using fully homomorphic encryption methods on cryptograms is data intensive and incurs a huge “performance tax” even for simple operations.
Under the DARPA DPRIVE program, Intel plans to design an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) accelerator to reduce the performance overhead currently associated with fully homomorphic encryption. When fully realized, the accelerator could deliver a massive improvement in executing FHE workloads over existing CPU-driven systems, potentially reducing cryptograms’ processing time by five orders of magnitude.
With its expertise in cloud infrastructure, software stacks and fully homomorphic encryption, Microsoft will be a critical partner in accelerating the commercialization of this technology when ready, enabling free data sharing and collaboration while promoting privacy throughout the data life cycle.
“We are pleased to bring our expertise in cloud computing and homomorphic encryption to the DARPA DPRIVE program, collaborating with Intel to advance this transformative technology when ready into commercial usages that will help our customers close the last-mile gap in data confidentiality —– keeping data fully secure and private, whether in storage, transit or use,” said Dr. William Chappell, chief technology officer, Azure Global, and vice president, Mission Systems, Microsoft.