[RC5] [RC5-Mac] the DEATH of d.net?

Jeff Woods jwoods at delta.com
Mon Jul 27 11:13:07 EDT 1998

You're both off base WRT Moore's Law.   Moore's Law is irrelevant here,
esp. for RC5.

1) The EFF computer was very hihgly specialized for DES cracking, and is 
   incapable of RC5 cracking.   A complete $220,000+ redesign would be
   required to make a similar machine for RC5 cracking.

2) d.net is not itself immune to Moore's Law.   Participants upgrade.  New
   participants are using more powerful CPU's than 2 years ago.  d.net is
   also growing and taking advantage of Moore's Law.  You cannot claim that
   Moore's Law is causing us to be outpaced, since our firepower is also
   increasing due to it.

3) Moore's law doesn't really apply to Deep Crack.   It will NOT double in
   processor power for the same price in a year, because it is a custom 
   machine.  Moore's law applies only to mass-produced CPU's, where the
   research dollars required to keep up with it are worth it.

Certainly, there is something to be said for the fact that small-key
encryption has recently been proven woefully inadequate, both by d.net and
the EFF.   But don't claim that Moore's Law has made us obsolete....it just
isn't true.  d.net is still nearly as fast as Deep Crack.

At 10:14 AM 7/21/98 -0500, you wrote:
>> It seems to me that at the moment we are either wasting time trying to
>> crack a code for which a super computer now exists for that sole purpose
>> and can achieve the results in a faster time than we can do it. Or we
>> are working on a project that again seems a complete waste of time in
>> that it is unlikely we will ever complete it before beginning a more
>> important (HOPEFULLY!!) project. And even if we continue in that, isn't
>> it likely the same super computer can do a better job?
>Indeed! This question has been bugging me for a little while now. It seems
>to me that in the founding days of d.net, the rationale for choosing this
>project was that it required resources of a supercomputer-scale nature, and
>that it was to show that supercomputer-scale work could be done by those
>without supercomputer-scale funds. Well, that was a year or two ago, and
>now it seems we may have been overtaken by Moore's Law -- which not only
>stipulates the doubling of processor power, but doubling _at the same
>price_. Not only more powerful, but cheaper too. When one thinks about
>scale, one can see that to upgrade all of distributed.net's processors
>would take millions of dollars. It also means that in 18 months or so, Deep
>Crack will either be twice as fast, or cost only $125,000. True, it is a
>hardware solution that can't be used for RC5 in its present form, but since
>it is a public spec (as long as you shell out the dough for their book),
>Deep Crack Clones are sure to follow, and possibly hardware designed to
>crack RC5. If so, distributed.net doesn't stand a chance against its
>branch-guessing algorithms. Likewise, the ramp-up latency problem that
>allowed Deep Crack to jump out to such a commanding lead in DES-II-2 will
>still exist for DES-II-3 and all further projects, even if v3 clients can
>manage to diminish that time through intelligent scheduling. Deep Crack
>will never have this problem, and though by the time DES-II-3 rolls around
>we may have, as Adam has said, 2.6 times as much processing power, if Deep
>Crack (or "Deep Crack II: Crack Deeper") gets the same sort of lead in the
>first day, we will never beat it.
>The other motivating idea behind distributed.net was to promote the
>potential of distributed computing, that is, the sharing of processing
>power over a network. Not too long ago, Sun introduced its Jini
>spec/project/thingy which promises to be the actual realization of this
>idea as a practical venture. One reason why code-cracking was chosen to
>demonstrate d.net power was that it can be coded and maintained with little
>effort (relative to creating commercially viable apps in a business cycle
>framework -- no offense to the hard-working folks of d.net). Nobody needs a
>code cracking client to do their daily work, but it can be built and run
>relatively trouble-free by a handful of motivated volunteers. With the
>advent of Jini, however, all sorts of apps will be distributed --
>spreadsheets, e-mail, graphics, modeling, database, multimedia, you name
>it... but probably not code cracking, because nobody needs it to get their
>daily work done. This puts a two-pronged relevancy challenge to d.net: on
>the one hand, our point has been proven, and on the other hand, we produce
>little of value by our efforts.
>Thus, it seems to me that the entire distributed.net project is in danger
>of disappearing, and is perched on the horns of this dilemma -- our claim
>of "speed through sharing" is being challenged on the speed end by Deep
>Crack and on the sharing end by Jini. With these twin challenges, I fear
>that d.net will find it harder and harder to gain new recruits, and easier
>to lose current participants. I think that perhaps distributed.net needs to
>rethink things on a top level, that is, instead of spending our efforts
>making faster, more efficient clients to do the same work, we should be
>looking for more valuable work. Think of this: the most optimistic
>estimates of our RC5-64 project are measured in years. While it's true that
>the winning key could be found today, not many of us expect this to happen.
>If it does in fact take years to dig out the key, how much satisfaction
>will you have derived from it? As Patrick has wisely pointed out, how much
>has it cost us in resources -- electricity being the major "waste" -- to
>find the winning key? I suppose if I were Adam Beberg, I might see things
>differently, but I'm not, and despite the charities, the prize money, and
>my own feelings about government encryption policies, I'm seriously
>rethinking my commitment to distributed.net.
>On a personal note -- my individual stats for RC5-64 have touched the
>2100th rank, and on 7/21 my contributions amounted to 93,989 blocks of
>keys. I check my stats nearly every day to see if I have gone up a notch or
>two. I am a member of Team Evangelist, and it does give me some
>satisfaction to see us at the top of the mountain. All the same, I don't
>feel like my efforts, my contributions, are doing the world much good.
>Unless this feeling changes, I will probably withdraw myself and my
>machines from the project soon.
>[PS -- I am posting this to both rc5mac and rc5. Anyone else who would like
>to forward this to other d.net lists I am not on may do so with my
>-Greg Delisle
>Indiana University Press Journals
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