Is this the dawn of client-side GPU-accelerated virus scanning? Not quite. However, anti-virus software firm Kaspersky Lab has begun to use Nvidia graphics processors to accelerate virus screening internally, and the firm expects the GPUs will enable a "quicker response to new threats." Here's the skinny, straight from Kaspersky's announcement:
Kaspersky Lab uses the Tesla S1070 1U GPU system to accelerate the intellectual services that define the similarity of files. The similarity services enable the identification of new files and define which file, or file groups, most closely resemble the unknown program received by the Company's antivirus lab.
The Tesla S1070 fits in a 1U rack and includes four Tesla graphics processors based on the GT200 design. Each GPU has 240 stream processors, 4GB of RAM, and a 512-bit memory interface. Nvidia claims the S1070 delivers maximum combined floating-point number-crunching power of 4.14 teraFLOPS in single-precision mode and 345 gigaFLOPS in double-precision mode.
For its part, Kaspersky Lab says it has witnessed a "360-fold increase in the speed of the similarity-defining algorithm" over a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo with the Tesla system. That's a bit of a strange comparison, since you'd think Kaspersky would have been using at least a few quad-core Xeons before. Nevertheless, a "360-fold" performance increase would probably be hard to achieve by merely piling on more conventional processor cores.