Google Titan Security Chip Looks To Protect GCP Data Centre Hardware

data centre, servers

Titan Security chip is size of stud earring and is already installed on thousands of servers within Google data centres

Google is set to detail a new security chip for its Google Cloud Platform (GCP), believing it will give it an edge over rival providers Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

The Titan chip is said to be the size of a small stud earring and more technical details will be disclosed on Thursday, according to Reuters.

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Hardware Control


The Titan chip was first announced in March and is predominantly a hardware protection device.

“Titan scans hardware to ensure it has not been tampered with,” Neal Mueller, head of infrastructure product marketing for Google Cloud Platform, told Reuters in a recent interview. “If anything has been changed, Titan chip will prevent the machine from booting.”

The chip’s presence comes as cloud firms such as Google, with many thousands of servers spread across the world in different data centres, become increasingly concerned at the possibility of nation-state hackers, or indeed sophisticated cyber criminals, gaining access to their hardware.

And it should be remembered that a lot of this hardware is assembled in Asia before the server reaches and is installed to service core markets such as the US or Europe.

“It allows us to maintain a level of understanding in our supply chain that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Mueller reportedly said.

Google’s hardware driven approach to securing its servers differs to that of its main cloud rivals, namely Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Both of these firms seem to favour more traditional technologies such as encryption and other measures to secure their data centre kit.

Google is in third place behind those two firms in terms of cloud services market share.

But it seems that as security remains a very real concern for cloud customers, Google hopes its Titan chip will help differentiate its services and convince those firms with doubts. Its Titan chip is said to be already protecting the servers running Google search, Gmail and YouTube.

The presence of the Titan chip could also help organisations that have to demonstrate the ability to meet certain compliance regulations (i.e. in the financial or medical sectors).

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Hardware Ambitions

Google in the past has been notoriously secretive when it came to discussing the technology it uses and indeed even the design of its data centres.

But it is a well known fact within tech circles that Google has long experimented with its own chips. In 2013 for example it considered developing its own range of server microprocessors, and more recently it has even mooted the possible development of smartphone chips.

And in 2016 it revealed that it is currently making its very own chips, designed specifically for machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI).

Incidentally, Google Titan should not be confused with its internet drone project Titan, which it closed down earlier this year.

Those solar-powered drones were designed to provide web connectivity for remote areas of the world, with the ability to fly for several days at a time.

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