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Intel® Crypto-NI Maximizes Cryptographic Performance and Cost Effectiveness of Critical Workloads

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A common concern of many organizations is the rising costs of cloud computing. In fact, according to Flexera’s 2023 State of the Cloud Report, 82 percent1 of organizations say that managing cloud spend is a top cloud challenge with security being a close second. The growing need for security has led to increased encryption of data, an important factor impacting cloud consumption costs due to the amount of compute resources it requires. Cryptographic functions are some of the most compute-intensive operations applied to constantly expanding data volumes as they are processed, moved, and stored. This trend is expected to continue, as organizations adopt stronger encryption algorithms and larger keys to protect their data from increasingly sophisticated threats.

Longtime Presidio ally Intel has addressed the challenges of encryption with Intel® Crypto New Instructions (Crypto-NI) acceleration. This feature uses specialized instructions that are embedded directly into the CPU, allowing it to perform cryptographic operations more efficiently, freeing up cores for other tasks. As a result, cryptographic operations performance can be increased by up to 3.8X2 with minimal impact on cloud compute costs.

Presidio would like to share some of the common workloads that incorporate cryptography and how to leverage the integrated Crypto-NI feature available on the latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

An acceleration approach with an array of advantages

Intel’s crypto acceleration capabilities were introduced in the 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor  and are also integrated into the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor This cryptography processing acceleration feature offers numerous benefits that include:

  • Increased performance: As previously mentioned, cryptography acceleration can significantly improve the performance of cryptographic operations, freeing up the CPU cores to perform other tasks. Performance gains on 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors are found to match or exceed those obtained on 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
  • Improved security: Cryptography acceleration can help to improve security by supporting stronger encryption algorithms and larger keys, without degrading CPU core performance.
  • Reduced cost: Cryptography processing acceleration can help to drive down costs by reducing the load on the CPU and allowing fewer instances to be used.

But before realizing any of these benefits, understanding how to leverage this feature is essential to optimizing your overall platform, workload, and service performance, as well as minimizing your costs.

Demonstrating performance gains with new cryptography instructions3

The 3rd and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors include built-in accelerators designed to make certain operations, like cryptography, dramatically faster. They differ from other accelerators that rely on external hardware, such as GPUs or FPGAs. Instead, Intel embeds special instruction sets right into the CPU itself. These instructions make the underlying operations of security algorithms significantly more efficient. With the 3rd and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Crypto-NI, workloads run faster and more securely.

Fifteen new cryptography instructions were added to 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Impressive levels of acceleration can be achieved in three of the most common cryptographic scenarios, as detailed in Figure 1:

  • Up to 6X faster public-key encryption and decryption for uses such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) front end, web services, and proxies
  • Up to 4x faster bulk cryptography for uses such as file, block, and streaming video encryption, when using Intel® Advanced Vector Extension 512 (Intel® AVX-512)
  • Up to 2x faster secure hash performance for uses such as digital signatures, authentication, and integrity checking using algorithms such as Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1) and Secure Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-2, also known as SHA-256), which are used by SSL

Figure 1: Accelerating Cryptography Instructions

Workloads that benefit from cryptographic acceleration based on Intel Crypto-NI

The Intel Crypto-NI feature of 3rd and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors, provides a foundation for improved performance, better customer experiences, and enhanced security practices across all applicable workloads and use cases, as shown in the following table.


Workload Benefit Benchmark Link Use Cases
NGINX Web Server Up to 3.65X improvement on NGINX performance on AWS C6i and R6i EC2 instances Open-source web server, reverse proxy server, and load balancer. Used in major industries like e-commerce, media streaming, content delivery, and cloud infrastructure.
WordPress Up to 41% better WordPress performance on GCP N2 instances Open-source content management system
IPSec Up to 3.84X higher IPSec performance claim # 71 Site-to-site VPN, remote access VPN, and secure data transmission
Hashing Up to 1.09X higher performance on hashing functions and up to 2.3X higher performance on data integrity checks claim # 69 Data integrity checking, password storage, digital signatures, data verification, and data deduplication

Count on Presidio to help optimize your cryptographic performance

As longtime collaborators, Presidio and Intel have worked together on numerous product releases, including the launch of both 3rd and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. As a result, we offer in-depth familiarity with Intel’s approach to cryptography.

Presidio experts apply our methodical solution process.

  • Understand your workload deployment strategy in the data center and cloud
  • Determine how cryptography fits into your application’s architecture.
  • Ascertain which workloads require or would benefit from cryptographic acceleration.
  • Explore your potential performance/cost benefits to be achieved with Intel Crypto acceleration.

We start by understanding your use cases and then help guide you every step of the way as you begin integrating Intel Crypto-NI into your workloads.

Learn how you can attain greater results with the right data center resources and cloud instances, optimized if needed with the appropriate software fine-tuning: contact us or reach out directly to your Presidio account manager for assistance.

1 Flexera 2023 State of the Cloud Report

2 4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors Performance Index

3 Intel® Crypto Acceleration Solution Brief

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