It seems like we cover a Windows 10 vulnerability of some kind every week, but while Microsoft certainly works hard to churn out security updates with nearly the same regularity, there are some updates that are beyond their control.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced its new Pluton security chip that will endeavor to solve some of these problems. The chip is based on work that started with the Xbox One back in 2013 and has been developed in partnership with AMD, Intel and Qualcomm as it will be integrated directly into the CPU (via Neowin).
The current hardware-based solution is a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which will frequently be touted as an additional security measure in business laptops. While this augments the security of a Windows PC, there is a level of separation between it and the CPU, which still allows hackers to find vulnerabilities. That means updates to correct any vulnerabilities must come both from both parties.
The new Pluton security chip rectifies that problem by putting the firmware updates entirely in Microsoft’s court. Updates to Pluton will come directly from Microsoft as part of the Windows Update process, guaranteeing greater speed and less confusion regarding who is responsible.
It’s a tandem hardware and software solution that is entirely under Microsoft’s control. Microsoft originally implemented something akin to Pluton in the Xbox One in 2013 and has since utilized a similar approach as part of Azure Sphere which secures IoT devices, so this is a tried-and-true solution.
The bad news for current Windows laptop owners is that this is in part a hardware solution, so you won’t see the benefits of it until you update to a new laptop.
AMD said that it will be the first to release hardware that includes Microsoft Pluton, but has not given any specifics. The expectation is that we will see AMD’s Ryzen 5000 mobile processors announced at CES 2021 in January, so that would be the earliest we could possibly see this debut.