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One of the newest computer hardware options available today is a Windows PC with a Pluton CPU. This is a security-focused chip that was developed by Microsoft along with AMD and Qualcomm. The technology behind it was first used in Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console, as well as the Azure Sphere.

Today, Pluton processors are being rolled out on a variety of other types of computer equipment, including new Windows 11 PCs like the Lenovo ThinkPad Z Series laptops coming May 2022.  

Is a system with a Pluton CPU for you? As with any new technology, some companies will benefit greatly from this advancement, and others can wait a few years until it becomes standard equipment. Here we will look at the inner workings of the Pluton CPU and what it may be able to do for your business.

What is the Pluton CPU?

Windows 11 Bloom
Windows 11 with the power of Pluton

The Pluton CPU is an innovative new processor that was designed specifically to help improve on the security of computer equipment. By incorporating security onto the chip itself, it closes a variety of different potential vulnerabilities that existed on current computer systems. Click the link for more information on the five most common types of cyberattacks.

With the standard processors, sensitive information was generally kept on a separate component called the trusted platform module, or TPM. This is where critical information for the system, including encryption keys, has been housed. While the TPM itself is generally extremely secure, the communication channel between the CPU and the TPM could be exploited.

Highly sophisticated cybercriminals have looked at this communication channel as an attack point. They have found ways to 1.) gather information that is transmitted; and 2.) insert unauthorized data into the channel. This puts any system that is compromised at significant risk.

Since this type of cyberattack requires a high level of sophistication, only high-value systems with highly sensitive information are at risk in most cases. The Pluton CPU, however, was developed to combat a much more common type of attack.

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What Security Threats Does the Pluton CPU Stop?

CPU Security
CPU gotta protect your information

The technology behind the Pluton CPU was first commercially used in 2020 on Microsoft’s Xbox One console. In previous versions of the console, hackers found a way to exploit the communication bus between the main CPU and the TPM by physically modifying the hardware in a way that would allow them to intercept and modify the data that was being transmitted.

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When users modified their Xbox systems in this way, they would be able to bypass the security systems that verified that the games on the system have been authentically purchased. This means that users could download and play any game they wanted without buying them. It cost Microsoft millions and prompted development of technology to stop the practice.  

By eliminating the communication bus between the CPU and TPM entirely, Microsoft was able to effectively shut down this type of software hack. After having proven that the Pluton CPU works as intended, its use case became apparent for systems that demanded high levels of security.

The first PCs and other types of hardware to become available with the Pluton CPU will roll out this year. It will start with new Windows 11 PCs, but the CPU will undoubtedly be used in other systems as well. In addition, now that the technology behind the Pluton CPU has been proven, it is very likely that other chip makers will begin incorporating it into their systems.

The predecessor to Pluton technology, TPM, was a huge step forward in security when it was first developed but is now over a decade old.  It is almost certain that over the next several years, the TPM architecture will be phased out in favor of the Pluton CPU and other similar setups that incorporate this type of security directly onto the main processors of systems.

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Is the Pluton CPU Necessary for Your Business?

This is the big question that companies need to ask. While the benefits to a Pluton CPU are obvious, and virtually every piece of equipment could benefit from the added security, not everyone will really need to invest in this type of technology. Since Pluton CPUs are brand new, you will generally only find them on higher end equipment, which means you will have to pay a premium to get them. If you’re looking for a more manageable solution, we can help you choose the best antivirus and antimalware for you.

If your business deals with highly sensitive information on a regular basis, spending the extra money to get this added layer of security is going to be well worth it. If, however, sensitive data is not typically found on your systems, upgrading to a Pluton CPU may be considered overkill. Of course, it is difficult to predict what types of security threats will become prominent in the coming years.

Even if you don’t think a Pluton CPU is critical today, that may change at some point within the lifecycle of the equipment you are buying today. The last thing you would want to have to do is upgrade your equipment ahead of schedule because of security threats that Pluton CPUs could have prevented. In the end, each business is going to have to look at the benefits that Pluton CPUs offer, and the added costs, and decide if it is worth the investment.

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Michael Levanduski

Author Michael Levanduski

Michael Levanduski is a writer with over 20 years of experience working in the IT industry. He regularly writes for a variety of different publications, providing content on a wide range of different topics, including multiple different niches within the tech field. He lives in West Michigan with his family where he enjoys camping, hiking, and of course, writing.

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