Future AMD APUs to integrate ARM security tech


— 4:33 PM on June 13, 2012

Yesterday, AMD and ARM took the stage here in Bellevue, Washington to announce their joint stewardship of the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture Foundation. That's not the only thing the two companies are collaborating on, though. This morning, AMD announced that its future processors will integrate security functionality designed by ARM.

Known as TrustZone Technology, the functionality works by partitioning the processor into two virtual CPUs. Sensitive tasks are run on one virtual CPU, in what ARM calls the "secure world," and other tasks are run in the "normal world." The idea, of course, is to keep processes running on the secure virtual CPU inaccessible to those running on the normal one. ARM says applications for TrustZone include "secure payment, digital rights management (DRM), enterprise and web-based services."

Here's what AMD has planned for the technology:

AMD plans to provide development platforms that have TrustZone security features on select APUs in 2013, expanding further across its product portfolio in 2014. In a presentation this week at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 (AFDS), AMD Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Mike Wolfe described AMD’s vision to advance computing security by enhancing AMD’s existing security technologies. This is expected to include developing a platform security processor using an ARM Cortex™-A5 CPU that features TrustZone technology, to monitor and help protect against malicious access to sensitive data and operations at the hardware level.

TrustZone is also integrated in ARM's Cortex-series processor cores—including the Cortex-A9, which can be found in a huger number of today's smartphones, tablets, and other handhelds.

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