Flexxon, a Singapore-based security firm, has introduced an SSD with embedded AI-based security capabilities that the company says promises protection against traditional threats like malware and viruses, or physical tampering with the drive.
Modern SSD controllers rely on several Arm Cortex R cores and are basically rather high-performance system-on-chips with fairly sophisticated compute capabilities. These very capabilities, along with firmware enhancements, are what powers Flexxon's X-Phy SSD platform.
The platform relies on a technology that Flexxon calls AI One Core Quantum Engine and a special secured firmware. The company's description of its technology is vague at best, so it is unclear whether its engine is a completely self-sufficient/isolated platform or a combination of software, hardware, and firmware.
This AI One Core Quantum Engine presumably runs on an NVMe 1.3-compliant SSD controller and monitors all the traffic. Once its algorithm detects a threat (a virus, malware, an intrusion), it can block it to protect the firmware and data integrity. Furthermore, the company says the self-learning algorithm can detect abnormalities and identify them as threats, the company said without elaborating. Meanwhile, the drive comes with a special application. The X-Phy drive looks to be compatible with all major operating systems, based on an image published on the company's website.
The SSD is also equipped with "a range of features including temperature sensors to detect unusual movements that occur" in a bid to protect against physical intrusion. If the device detects tampering, it will lock itself and alert the owner via email. It is unclear how the device can alert its owner via an email if someone steals it from a PC that is shut down. Of course, there are ways to monitor HDD activity when the PC is off to lock the SSD if it is removed. Still, there isn't a way to issue a notification about a physical intrusion if the OS isn't running (unless, of course, the SSD is not equipped with a modem).
Flexxon stresses that the X-Phy SSD does not replace traditional security measures and calls it 'the last line of defense.'
Flexxon's X-Phy SSD is currently in trials with "government agencies, medical and industrial clients" and the manufacturer expects it to be available in Q4 2021 or in early 2022. The drive will be available in 512GB and 1TB 3D NAND configurations in M.2-2280 and U.2 form-factors with a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The SSD will support LDPC ECC as well as dynamic and static wear leveling. Expected prices are unknown.
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Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.