Why doesn't Sun release the crypto module of the OpenSPARC?

zooko zooko at zooko.com
Fri Jun 13 12:53:07 EDT 2008

On Jun 12, 2008, at 4:35 PM, David G. Koontz wrote:

> There's the aspect of competition.

> I've also wondered if a reason they didn't release it is because  
> they bought
> the 'IP' from someone.

Those are good guesses, David, and I guessed similar things myself  
and inquired of various Sun folks if this was the "real" reason.   
Nobody could give me any definite answer, however, until Sridhar  
Vajapey wrote:

  "US export control regulations prevent Sun from opensourcing the  
crypto portion of N2.".

This is consistent with other public statements such as the comment  
that originally set me wondering about this in this press piece:

"When the UltraSPARC T2 specifications are released Tuesday, Mehta  
said the company plans on releasing most of the source code,  
including the designs for the logic gate circuitry and the test  
suites. The one part of the source code that Sun can not release are  
the algorithms approved by the National Security Agency as part of  
the chip's cryptographic accelerations units."


Also, I've been watching Sun carefully for a couple of years now, and  
the top leadership is really fanatical about open source.  It would  
be inconsistent with their current pattern of behavior to withhold a  
component from GPL release for reason of competitive advantage.

My best guess remains that NSA or some such shadowy agency bamboozled  
them into thinking that it would be illegal to release it, or  
threatened them with unfortunate coincidences if they went ahead, or  
persuaded them that GPL'ing it would aid terrorists and cause the  
needless deaths of innocents.



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