Microsoft Intros Pluton Processor, Intel Will Adopt AMD’s Security Approach

In response to a new wave of attacks that have compromised standard approaches to Windows security, Microsoft announced its Pluton security processor that will reside inside of future consumer chips from both AMD and Intel – but it’s built using a technology that AMD pioneered with its custom processors for Xbox game consoles. It’s also a standard feature with AMD’s EPYC server processor chips. Now Intel will adopt the same approach to help secure PCs. 

The new collaboration between Microsoft, AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm will enable more robust security that helps prevent physical attacks and encryption key theft while protecting against firmware attacks. Microsoft will also use the technology to streamline firmware updates via Windows Update. 

The Pluton security processor comes as a result of recent new attack vectors that indirectly compromise the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which has long been the preferred method of securing PCs from potential threats. The TPM, a small secondary chip inside the system that stores encryption keys for services like Bitlocker and Windows Hello, is still robust enough to protect encryption keys, but malicious actors have learned how to penetrate the bus that connects the TPM to the CPU through physical attacks, thus compromising a system. 

Microsoft Pluton Processor

(Image credit: Microsoft )

Microsoft says that security must be built directly into the processor to prevent those attacks, hence the Pluton security processor. The new approach to securing the system isn’t really new at all, though – AMD pioneered the in-built security processor with the AMD Security Processor (ASP) in the Xbox game console back in 2013. This in-built 32-bit ARM Cortex-A5 processor is sandboxed from the rest of the processor, thus protecting it from attacks with exploits like Spectre, and provides secure encryption key generation and management to enable a hardware root of trust. 

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