On March 6, computer clusters from three institutions – the EPFL, the University of Bonn and NTT in Japan - reached the end of eleven months of strenuous calculation, churning out the prime factors of a well-known, hard-to-factor number that is a whopping 307 digits long. "This is the largest ‘special' hard-to-factor number factored to date," explains EPFL cryptology professor Arjen Lenstra. The number has a special mathematical form 2^1039-1.
It's rumored that the NSA's minimum unit of supercomputer purchase is an acre. That's right, they don't even bother buying less than an acre of new supercomputers at a time. And they have surely learned the lessons from Cracking DES - how a simple ASIC chip can check 60 million DES keys per second. And how you can easily parallel these chips up - by the thousand. So, 1024 bit asymmetric keys are dead. Long live 2048 bit. (Yeah right. I predict those will be too weak in 10 years or less.)