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Spring Speed Leap: AMD Athlon64 FX-53

DEP: Data Execution Protection

This is what Microsoft's Data Execution Prevention option menu will look like. Non-DEP-compatible software may have to be entered in the list.

AMD's 64 bit processors also offer an additional security feature. All CPUs in the AMD64 family, which includes the Athlon64, Athlon FX and Opteron, have an extra flag for use in marking individual memory areas as "non-executable." This feature helps to prevent execution of malicious program code. The function has been aptly abbreviated to NX (no execute).

The problem here is that it also has to be supported by both the application and the operating system. Intel offers a similar feature only in its Itanium processors; support in the desktop and workstation field is to follow.

The long-awaited Service Pack 2 for WindowsXP is slated to appear by summer 2004. It integrates the technology called DEP (Data Execution Prevention) in the operating system. It also plugs a long list of well-known security loopholes.

Owners of an AMD64 processor should thus be able to activate the memory protection by downloading the - don't hold your breath - Service Pack (Version: Beta 2028).