Palladium is a plan from Intel, AMD, and Microsoft to build security into personal computers and servers at the microprocessor level. Assuming that enough users buy computers with Palladium capabilities, each user may now for the first time be able to effectively filter out spam, ensure that only authorized programs can ever be run by the computer, and encrypt the data in your computer so that it can't be meaningfully read or altered by anyone else. Palladium would also enable new forms of digital rights management for content distributors.

Intel and AMD are currently working on the microprocessor. Microsoft may include support for the new security-enhanced processor as part of its next major operating system version in 2004. Bill Gates is said to consider Palladium a significant direction in its Trustworthy Computing strategy.

Palladium or applications enabled by Palladium would allow you (as a computer user) to:

  • Ensure that only you (or others you authorize) can use your computer
  • Control who can send you information and where they are sending it from (screen out all others before it's even read by the operating system)
  • Authorize all programs that can run in your computer (viruses and worms that manage to sneak in won't be able to initiate the execution of programs that they sneak in)
  • Screen all e-mail according to sender credentials (mail from unrecognized senders won't get through)
  • Allow you to control what happens to e-mail you send in terms of its life or the ability of others to share it by forwarding or copying
  • Have typed-in information encrypted as it moves from your keyboard to the computer
  • Have the computer send encrypted data securely to the display screen

Although details have not been revealed, the Palladium plan is likely to include computer components that securely identify each other and ensure that parameters are as expected. When the system is started, the boot process would check to ensure that the boot was authorized and conformed to expected criteria. Changes to the microprocessor are expected to be in the form of extensions to the existing architecture.

This was last updated in September 2005

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