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Microsoft Corporation and Advanced Micro Devices announced on Wednesday, the 25th of February, 2004, that the Service Pack 2 update for Microsoft Windows XP operating system will enable AMD’s Enhanced Virus Protection technology available in AMD64 microprocessors.

AMD’s enhanced virus protection security technology in combination with Microsoft’s Data Execution Prevention in the upcoming Windows XP SP2 is designed to help render some viruses, specifically buffer overrun exploits, inoperable and prevent them from replicating and spreading to other systems.

The core of AMD’s Enhanced Virus Protection is the so-called NX bit in the page-translation tables that specifies whether instructions can be executed from the page. The capability is also available on Intel’s Itanium and Itanium 2 microprocessors, but is not present in IA32e chips, such as Intel Pentium 4 E also known as Prescott, unlike suggested by certain sources last year.

“With multiple avenues for attackers to compromise a network through the discovery and exploitation of vulnerable systems, a multi-layered defense has become more essential than ever before,” said Robin Matlock, vice president of product marketing for Network Associates McAfee System Protection Solutions Group.

“As one of the first security companies to provide system protection for the AMD Athlon 64 processors, Network Associates is pleased to support AMD and Microsoft in their efforts to provide enhanced security technologies against malicious threats. The enhanced technology will mean greater protection for our mutual customers against both known and unknown attacks,” Matlock said.

Other chipmakers, namely Intel, VIA Technologies and Transmeta are also paying close attention to security features in their consumer processors. VIA and Transmeta enabled certain encryption engines in their latest processors, while Intel is going to add La Grande technology in its future chips. Certain other firms, such as NVIDIA, also said they would add some security features into theit next-gen network controllers.

Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Windows XP is expected to be released in the second quarter of the year. It will bring numerous additional security capabilities into the operating system besides the NX bit.

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