The significance of 10,000+ machines...

Garance A Drosehn (gad@eclipse.its.rpi.edu)
Mon, 26 May 97 21:43:57 -0400


This deschall effort has turned into a fairly impressive project,
in no small measure due to the fact that so many people are
contributing the spare-cycles of so many machines to a single
co-operative effort.

In that sense, the fact that there's over 10,000 clients is quite
an achievement. However, when it comes to the specific project of
breaking DES, one should remember that those machines are not 10,000
of the "latest-technology" hardware.

One of those machines, for instance, is my five-year-old 25Mhz 68040
NeXTstation, which is also busy doing many other tasks. This machine
is "cranking" thru keys at the "blazing" rate of 24K keys/sec. At
the same time, my PowerMac 8500/180 (180 Mhz 604e-based, which isn't
even the fast hardware that Apple makes) is doing approximately
932K keys/sec.

Given that the project is to show how "easy" it is to break DES,
one will have to keep that distinction in mind when this project
is over, and the press releases are written. There are two separate
issues involved here. One is getting so many idle computers working
on a single project, and the other is how easy it is to break DES.

If the only goal was to break DES, it could be done in less time
with significantly fewer machines if we limited it to machines
which were being sold as new today (and we had the money to go out
and buy a bunch of those machines...). I imagine everyone here
understands that, I'm just saying someone should be thinking how
to word any press releases to make that clear... :-)

---
Garance Alistair Drosehn     =     gad@eclipse.its.rpi.edu
Senior Systems Programmer        (MIME & NeXTmail capable)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute;           Troy NY    USA