InfoWorld reports AMD is planning to block access to the framebuffer in hardware to help enforce DRM schemes.
The AMD rep spelled it out in words that would have been undiplomatic coming from me: He said that the new chips will “block unauthorized access to the frame buffer.” In short, that means an unauthorized party can’t save the contents of the display to a file on disk unless the content owner approves it.
There is a short list of parties who will be unauthorized to access your frame buffer: You. There is a long list of parties who are authorized to access your frame buffer, and that list includes Microsoft, Apple, AMD, Intel, ATI, NVidia, Sony Pictures, Paramount, HBO, CBS, Macrovision, and all other content owners and enablers that want your machine to themselves whenever you’re watching, listening to, reading, or shooting monsters with their products.
Video, audio, and software will all drive a similar road, that being a single, unmodifiable path from the original encoded, licensed source to rendering, and on to delivery (display, headphones, portable device, printer, or memory for execution of software). This bit of progress seems to have little relevance to IT until you expand the meaning of the word “content” to encompass that which you create that is consumed by human eyes and ears.
As people working the IT side of business, academia, and government, we know all too well that personal and customer information, trade secrets, and other varieties of confidential data can be intercepted using tricks similar to those that are used to swipe movies and music. IT content needs that direct path from source media to delivery, too, so that possession of encoded media -- say, a Blu-ray disc -- is critical to viewing, listening, or executing.