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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Microsoft said Tuesday it is working with chipmakers AMD, Intel and Qualcomm to bring a new security processor to Windows machines. Dubbed Pluton, the security chip is based on work done for the Xbox One and designed to bring an added layer of security.

Why it matters: A number of difficult-to-patch chip flaws in recent years have left computers vulnerable to attack. It also comes as many of the biggest tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are increasingly designing their own silicon to augment traditional processors.

How it works: Designed by Microsoft, the Pluton module would actually go inside the main processor made by Intel, AMD and Qualcomm and expands on an existing security approach, known as the Trusted Platform Module, that is already found in modern PCs.

  • The Trusted Platform approach relies on a small separate chip known as the TPM. Microsoft said it can achieve even greater security with Pluton by integrating the security function directly into the PC’s main processor.

Between the lines: Apple has been expanding its silicon as well, and includes a roughly similar security chip, called the T2, that has been added into recent Macs.

  • Of course, Apple has now taken things a step further, using its own processor to power the Mac, starting with the M1-based Mac mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro that ship this week.
  • Yes, but: Researchers found a flaw in Apple's T2, so the existence of such additional security processors is not a panacea.

What's next: Expect to see more chip work from Microsoft, as well as the other Big Tech companies, as they look for greater control over the hardware in their ecosystems.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech at war over privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world's biggest tech firms are at each other's throats over how to manage data privacy, an issue that will shape the internet economy for years to come.

Why it matters: Absent any U.S. government intervention, tech companies are introducing rules that favor their own ideals and business models, sometimes at their peers' expense.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.