Motherboard chip sets don't normally excite much attention in the security world, but Nvidia's NForce 4 could turn out to be the exception. Better known for its graphics chips, Nvidia has become the first to release a motherboard controller that makes it possible to build a hardware firewall within a PC itself. The catch is that the new PCI-based chip set will only work with AMD Athlon 64, 64 FX, and Sempron processors. Consequently, the company expects that NForce 4 will be aimed at higher-end applications such as gaming in its initial roll-out. It is not clear whether the chip set will be made to work in Intel systems at a later date.
Although software firewalls are effective on PCs, the NForce 4 "ActiveArmor" protection engine claims to carry out its security routines without hindering the performance of the PC, acting as an "accelerated" co-processor. This should improve system performance by unburdening the main CPU from having to process network traffic. ActiveArmor's firewall functions look fairly standard, and include packet inspection, port filtering, and other anti-hacking features as well as remote administration which is a must for IT departments.
News source: PCWorld.com