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Intel's Prescott To Close Off Widely Used Hacker Route

Later this year, Intel will turn on a security feature within its newest Pentium 4 processors -- dubbed "Prescott" after the code name of the chip family -- that will block buffer overflows, one of the most widely used hacker attack avenues.

Prescott supports the NX -- for "no execute" -- feature that blocks worms and viruses from executing code after creating a buffer overflow on the machine, said Paul Otellini, Intel's president and chief operating officer in a Webcast Thursday of the company's spring analyst meeting.

"This closes one of the most abused holes in the [Windows] operating system," said Otellini.

The NX feature will require software support from Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), which Microsoft plans to roll out later this year. The buffer overflow blocking support is just one of several security enhancements Microsoft will unveil in SP2.

Intel's rival, Advanced Micro Devices, already has chips on the market -- its Athlon 64 and Opteron processors -- that include the NX feature.