It’s probably well known that GPUs are powerful beasts, and I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog that the awesome power of the GPU can be used for more than just graphics. For tasks and computations that can be executed in parallel, GPUs are a lot faster than CPUs and also more powerful. So it won’t come as a big surprise to learn that people have put GPUs to good use to do all kinds of stuff. GPGPU has been more than a buzzword off late and with technologies like CUDA and Larrabee, it has become even easier to get at all this power. However like every other piece of technology, GPGPU also has it’s downsides. This article I read recently briefly outlines the fact the GPU could be put to work as a generic brute force cracker. I am no expert in cracking, but I am a person who has played around with GPGPU long enough to understand how serious this could be. I read the article and the first thought that crossed my mind is, “Hey, you know, this is the kind of thing the GPU excels in actually!”
GPUs today can deliver computational power in teraflops. Very soon we could have hardware that can do 100s of times that. There is also another interesting thing that GPUs allow you to do. You can stack a series of these buggers together and achieve a phenomenal boost to this already awesome power. You could increase the computational power of a machine by several orders of the magnitude by stacking GPUs in parallel. It’s a disturbing fact that such power, until a few years ago, was only available on top-of-the line mainframes. Today your could build a machine that has the power of a supercomputer with components probably available at your nearest computer hardware store. That just doesn’t bode will with the fact that anyone with a brain and time to kill can hack-up a brute force cracker and put it to work — and with enough “horsepower”, might even succeed.
As more and more powerful GPUs hit the market and as GPGPU technologies progress, we will see newer machines with unheard of computing power on our desks and laps. While this means more interesting games and faster number crunching for most of us, there are those who will put such tech to vile use. What we probably also need are better security systems and stronger encryption systems along with better games and faster number crunchers.