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Cisco Stops Spam with Increased Performance from Intel


Intel Multi-core Processors Power Next-Generation IronPort Content Security Systems

SAN FRANCISCO.- IronPort® Systems, a business unit of Cisco® today announced the use of Multi-core Intel® Xeon® processors to power IronPort’s next generation of email and Web security appliances. IronPort appliances use AsyncOS, a proprietary operating system that is taking full advantage of the significant performance increases made possible by Intel Multi-core technology. This performance improvement helps enterprises, Internet service providers (ISPs) and smaller organizations stay ahead of the never-ending deluge of spam e-mail.
Spam, Spam, Spam, and More Spam

According to IronPort’s SenderBase, world’s first and largest email traffic monitoring service, the volume of spam has been roughly doubling every year, with no end in sight. As of August 2007, the IronPort business unit measured an 18 percent month-over-month increase in spam volume . It is estimated that more than 90 percent of all email is spam. More than 80 percent of spam comes from infected “zombie” computers, typically in consumer broadband networks. As spam filters become more effective and more widely deployed, a spammer simply sends more messages with the hope that enough will get through spam filters to make the spammer’s business profitable.
Spam Gets Smarter

In addition to the brute-force tactic of doubling spam volumes year-over-year, spammers have adopted a variety of techniques to bypass traditional filters. Spammers have migrated from simple text messages to HTML messages to image-based spam. The latest variant is known as attachment spam, where spam messages are embedded into popular attachment types such as Adobe PDF or Microsoft Excel files. This poses additional burdens for spam filters because the average spam message size has increased from approximately 3 kilobytes Kbytes in 2005 to 40 kilobytes in 2007. Not only are the messages larger, but they also require much more computer processing at the perimeter to interpret the new attachments and distinguish spam from legitimate mail. The combination of exponential growth in message volumes coupled with larger messages and more required processing per message has caused many traditional anti-spam systems to struggle to keep up-these end users will see more spam getting past the filters and into their inbox, and may experience delays in sending and receiving mail.
Staying in Front

The new generation of email security appliances from IronPort harnesses the power of Multi-core Intel Xeon processors to stay in front of new spammer tactics. The IronPort X1050 uses dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series. The IronPort AsyncOS operating system is able to take full advantage of all eight cores, yielding system throughput approximately 800 percent greater than a comparable single-core appliance. This increase in processing power allows the IronPort appliance not only to process more spam messages, but also to run more sophisticated rules and analysis to thwart the latest spam techniques.

Spam continues and as a result, spam filters cannot simply rely on faster hardware to keep pace. The work that Cisco and Intel have been doing with multi-core systems is a great example of the new technologies required to stay ahead of spam.
Available Now

IronPort X1050 and all multi-core systems are available now. Visit for more details.


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