DRM in Intel's new Pentium D
Ars Technica is reporting that one of the new features of Intel's new dual-core processor is some kind of DRM support, favoring Microsoft's solution. Digital Rights Management is a hot topic largely because it is being enforced by a group of people who probably don't really understand the problem.
The problem with keeping copywritten works from being illegally distributed goes way back to VHS. People used to dub tapes all the time, and it only became a problem when a few individuals would get hold of some pre-release, or just released VHS tapes and sell copies of movies still in theaters. Even then, the industry only made token attempts at resistance because the quality of the copies were awful. Not anymore, if someone copies a DVD or a MP3, the quality can be almost as good as the original as long as they use a high enough bitrate.
The industry is still back in the VHS days, thinking that by adding some kind of encryption like Macrovision they can stop the majority of people who want to copy their movies. The real problem is that there is a legitimate reason to want to copy your movies. For example, I am a pretty broad consumer of DVDs. I'd like to rip all of my DVDs, the ones I own, and put them on a movie server attached to my home theater. That way if I want to watch a DVD, I don't have to fumble around with discs, or if I want to change the DVD then I just click. I could potentially have all my movies, music, and pictures at my fingertips, which is the goal for most technology buffs.
It is mindless to attempt to stop people from making single copies. Unfortunately that is what many companies are trying to do. It makes much more sense to stop people from making copies of copies, because that is where things really get out of hand with file sharing, etc… Also, if there were an easy way for people to share their music collection with their friends, via streaming, etc… Then most of the copyright infringement would stop. The RIAA and movie studios are trying to hurt the wrong people, they are going after the people who enjoy their products instead of the hard-core guys on the street selling thousands of bootleg copies of movies and CDs.
So, Intel adding DRM. I think it is a good move, they are being tight-lipped about how it might be used, but I agree with Ars that it will probably be around the network component. Microsoft is working hard to make sure the next version of Windows is as safe as possible, and implementing security in the hardware with software support is the best way to do it without impacting the performance of the system.
However, that being said, I can almost say with assurance that it will perhaps be used for that benign purpose, but more than likely will be used to validate software installations with some type of hardware code similar to the processor number Intel tried to implement a couple of years ago in the Pentium II.
Just a couple more reasons to stick with AMD or Apple.