[kwlug-disc] Hardware Random Number Generators

Paul Nijjar paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca
Fri Feb 10 11:23:40 EST 2012

A while ago I was looking for a way to generate lots of random bits
quickly. I was finding that I was running out of bits and my processes
were blocking.

It turns out that some motherboards and CPUs have hardware random
number generators (HRNGs) built-in. In particular, I had a bunch of Compaq
Pentium III desktops with this functionality. Activating these HRNGs
made a huge difference.  

In Linux, I was able to test for the existence of a hardware random
number generator by looking for the folder


Those were the good old days. Now I am looking in Pentium 4 and above
systems, and there don't seem to be random number generators any more.
When I install the "rng-tools" package (which uses the HRNG) then the
package also complains that there is no hardware support.

My question: have hardware manufacturers removed this functionality?
>From all products? From consumer products? If I wanted to find some
hardware that had this support what should I be looking for?

Do you folks in KWLUG-land have this functionality on your machines?
If so what's special about your hardware?

- Paul


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