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"Trusted Platform Module" (TPM) headers - What are they used for?

Last response: in Motherboards
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August 4, 2008 3:31:20 AM

For motherboards that have "Trusted Platform Module headers:"


(Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6)

I'm wondering what exactly are you supposed to plug into this header? Can someone link to an example of a product on an e-tailer's site that one would buy to plug into this header?

And more to the point... once you plug something into this, how is it then used? Is this simply just some sort of security dongle?

I have searched Google and Wikipedia and such, but mostly all I can find out is that TPM is a security specification system for creating and storing cryptographic keys. But that doesn't answer the question of what exactly the TPM headers now available on some motherboards are supposed to be used for.
August 4, 2008 4:58:46 AM

You sort of had it... a TPM simply connects to it. Trusted Platform Module, although i have never seen one nor seen one for sale it should be i spose the size of a usb drive that connects in. This is then used to store and generate the keys for accessing the hard drives. The motherboard would obviously just route all request through it i spose?
August 4, 2008 6:31:56 AM

I believe that's exactly what it is: a security dongle that's "more secure" (i.e., harder to crack) than conventional USB, serial, or parallel dongles.

That header will attach to a bracket with a port on it that the TPM plugs into.

The way I believe it's supposed to work is, you buy software or hardware and you won't be able to run it unless you have a TPM plugged into the header. The TPM could be "married" to the software either by having your own TPM that you register online with the vendor, or the software may actually require a TPM be mailed out to the user from the software licensor.

Just like a dongle, the TPM is used to make it so the software (or hardware) can ONLY run on the machine that has the TPM. This allows you to uninstall and then reinstall the software to a blank hard drive or different computer (providing that you also move the TPM to the new machine as well) without having to reregister or reactivate. You also avoid "activation" completely, so you don't need to be online or call anyone to get your software to work.

I don't believe there are any TPM brackets that would attach to that header available yet. Software or hardware that requires TPM is a ways off, but once enough new desktop computers, laptop computers, and motherboards have TPM headers or ports, you will start to see software (for example Adobe Photoshop) that you will not be able to install unless you have a corresponding TPM module.
October 12, 2008 6:16:10 AM

TMP software is not a long way off. It is here. Windows Vista Ultimate BitLocker uses TMP.
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