Intel Offloads Antivirus Scans to Graphics Processor, Freeing up CPU

Intel has found a new use for its integrated graphics processors: antivirus scans. The company has partnered with Microsoft to introduce a new capability in Windows Defender that can offload the antivirus scans from a computer’s CPU to the Intel graphics processor. The “accelerated memory scanning” solution is designed to free up your PC’s computing resources whenever an antivirus scan kicks in.

According to Intel’s benchmarks, the CPU utilization rate dropped from 20 percent to as little as 2 percent. The goal behind the feature is to increase the frequency of antivirus scanning to catch more malware, said Intel vice president Rich Echevarria on Monday. Although current scanning technology can achieve this, it can drag down your PC’s performance and drain at the battery life, he said.

Intel Offloads Antivirus Scans to Graphics Processor, Freeing up CPU

Intel showed off the technology near the RSA security conference in San Francisco, and it did appear to dramatically cut down the CPU resource-hogging. In one demo, the computer’s CPU utilization rate dropped from 100 percent down to 20 to 30 percent, while the Intel integrated graphics processor helped with the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, the feature is only rolling out to an enterprise version of Windows Defender, called Advanced Threat Protection (ATP); Intel said its arriving to the software this month.

The other catch is that the GPU-powered scans will only work on Windows systems running 6th generation Intel Core chips (Skylake) or newer.

That generally means PCs that came out in late 2015 and onward.

But the good news is that an Intel rep said it’s planning on bringing the feature to other security products too.

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