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Confidential Computing: From Niche to Mainstream

Greg_Lavender
Employee
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The emergence of confidential computing presents an opportunity for the industry to collectively solve challenges for securing our digital assets in an age of rapid digitization and rising threats. As more workloads move to hybrid and multi-cloud environments, enterprises look to ensure the protection of their data sets, machine learning algorithms, and even entire applications at rest, in transit, and also while in use 

I recently attended an important industry event, the Open Confidential Computing Conference (OC3), which was organized by Edgeless Systems and co-sponsored by Intel. 

I was pleased to be invited to join a panel discussion, moderated by Edgeless Systems CEO Felix Schuster, featuring three fellow industry leaders:  

  • Ian Buck, VP and GM of Accelerated Computing Data Center Business, Nvidia 
  • Mark Papermaster, CTO and EVP of Technology and Engineering, AMD
  • Mark Russinovich, CTO and Technical Fellow, Microsoft Azure 

It was not surprising to me that we unanimously agreed on the importance of trust in confidential computing — trust in devices, providers, hardware, and software. The opportunity for proof of trust is immense. It was great to see the industry coming together to raise awareness, advance the technology, and lower the barriers to adoption. Confidential computing is the table stakes for the whole industry, and we really need to work together to achieve it in a heterogenous way.  

This panel discussion and the many talks presented at OC3 gave the open-source confidential computing community a platform to collaborate, co-innovate, and inspiration to co-invest in the confidential computing industry. 

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The confidential computing community has made steady strides in creating a technology stack of hardware, services, and software that customers are already using to create business solutions for cloud, on-prem, and edge deployments. We have laid a solid foundation.  

During my conference keynote, I shared three priorities to help move the industry from niche to mainstream:    

  1. Develop tooling to enable modernized, high-volume deployment of confidential computing applications and services that meet varying customer needs for confidentiality, integrity, and attestation.  
  2. Trusted connectivity and seamless resource sharing between Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) across heterogeneous architectures and PCI Express devices. Our trusted IO technology, Intel® Trust Domain Extensions (Intel® TDX) Connect, enables PCI Express devices to fully integrate with Intel TDX trust domains on future Intel Xeon platforms, creating a holistic confidential environment inside a heterogeneous system.  
  3. Raising awareness for confidential computing by encouraging dialogue between customers, analysts, industry groups, and policymakers.  

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Please also check out the OC3 technical talks to learn more about confidential computing, including Intel’s Project Amber attestation service and Intel Trust Domain Extensions presented by Intel technologists. 

Intel will continue to provide leadership with our technology and investments, and we are calling on all of you—software developers, hardware and device vendors, and the whole community, including the Confidential Computing Consortium—to join us in the journey of taking confidential computing from niche to mainstream.

About the Author
Greg Lavender is executive vice president, chief technology officer (CTO) and general manager of the Software and Advanced Technology Group (SATG) at Intel Corporation. As CTO, he is responsible for driving Intel’s future technical innovation through his leadership of Intel Labs, Intel Federal LLC and Intel Information Technology (IT). He is also responsible for defining and executing Intel’s software strategy across artificial intelligence, confidential computing and the growing need for open accelerated computing to support Intel’s range of business and hardware offerings. Lavender joined Intel in June 2021 from VMware, where he served as senior vice president and CTO. He has 40 years of experience in software and hardware product engineering, cloud-scale systems architecture and engineering, and advanced research and development. Prior to his role at VMware, Lavender held executive and technology leadership positions at Citigroup, Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems. Lavender holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in computer science from Virginia Tech.