Apple may have released a new processor that drastically enhances the speed of its new computers while consuming far less battery life, but Microsoft is also hard at work with a new computing processor of its own.
Called the Microsoft Pluton, the new security processor is looking to replace the existing Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that is currently used to secure hardware and cryptographic keys. It’s the same technology the company Is using on its Xbox consoles, and Microsoft is working with Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm to combine these chips into future CPUs to improve the overall security on Windows-based machines.
The new chip is designed to block new and emerging attack vectors that are being used to compromise PCs. Currently, the existing TPMS are separated from CPUs and attacks have been developing methods to steal data and information that flows between both of these processes.
Microsoft is hoping that by placing the new security processor directly with the CPU while enhancing its ability to process more complex cryptographic processes will help to solve this problem and possibly solve a myriad of security and piracy threats – much the same way it is difficult to run pirated games on Xbox consoles. As detailed by David Weston, Director of Enterprise and OS Security at Microsoft to The Verge:
We shipped the Xbox which has this physical attack protection, so people can’t just hack it for games etc. We learned principles of effective engineering strategies from that, and so we’re taking those learnings and partnering with Intel to build something for the PC that will stand up to that emerging attack vector. This is a better, stronger, faster, more consistent TPM. We provide the same APIs as TPM today, so the idea is that anything that can use a TPM could use this.
By moving a lot of authentication and encryption methods over to the new processor, hopefully, Microsoft will be able to enhance Windows security even more in the process and make the operating system better for everyone. Fixing the hardware problem makes it a lot easier to solve security at a software level and this could go a big way to improving things for them.
That being said, computer security is a complex thing, and there will no doubt be other vulnerability that might be exposed over time, but this is a crucial step for the company that will hopefully make a significant difference in the long run.
It’s not clear when the new Pluton chips will be available, but we might start seeing them next year from manufacturers when they release their new hardware.
Last Updated: November 19, 2020