Intel Total Memory Encryption (TME) and Multi-Key Total Memory Encryption (MKTME)

This document describes the memory encryption support targeting future Intel processors. Note that Intel platforms supports many different types of memory and not all SOC would support this capability for all types of memory. Initial implementation is likely to focus on traditional DRAM and NVRAM.

Total Memory Encryption (TME) – as name would imply is a capability to encrypt entirety of physical memory of a system. This capability is typically enabled in very early stages of boot process with small change to BIOS and once configured and locked will encrypt all the data on external memory buses of an SOC using NIST standard AES-XTS algorithm with 128-bit keys. The encryption key used for TME uses hardware random number generator implemented in Intel SOC and the keys are not accessible by software or using external interfaces to Intel SOC. TME capability is intended to provide protections of AES-XTS to external memory buses and DIMMs. The architecture is flexible and will support additional memory protections schemes in future. This capability when enabled is intended to support (unmodified) existing system and application software. Overall performance impact of this capability is likely to be relatively small and is highly dependent on workload.

Multi-Key Total Memory Encryption (MKTME) builds on TME and adds support for multiple encryption keys. The SOC implementation will support a fixed number of encryption keys, and software can configure SOC to use a subset of available keys. Software manages the use of keys and can use each of the available key for encrypting any page of the memory. Thus, MKTME allows page granular encryption of memory. By default MKTME uses TME encryption key unless explicitly specified by software. In addition to supporting CPU generated ephemeral key (not accessible by software or using external interfaces to SOC), MKTME also supports software provided keys. Software provided keys are particularly useful when used with non-volatile memory or when combined with attestation mechanisms and/or used with key provisioning services. In virtualization scenario, we anticipate VMM or hypervisor to manage use of keys to transparently support legacy operating systems without any changes (thus, MKTME can also be viewed as TME virtualization in such deployment scenario). An OS may be enabled to take additional advantage of MKTME capability both in native or virtualized environment. When properly enabled, MKTME is available to each guest OS in virtualized environment, and guest OS can take advantage of MKTME in same was as native OS.

Click to access Multi-Key-Total-Memory-Encryption-Spec.pdf

BTW, this is a great Twitter account to watch for updates to the Intel documentation.

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