ACM Computing Surveys

Intel TDX Demystified: A Top-Down Approach

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Intel Trust Domain Extensions (TDX) is an architectural extension in the 4th Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processor that supports confidential computing. TDX allows the deployment of virtual machines in the Secure-Arbitration Mode (SEAM) with encrypted CPU state and memory, integrity protection, and remote attestation. TDX aims to enforce hardware-assisted isolation for virtual machines and minimize the attack surface exposed to host platforms, which are considered to be untrustworthy or adversarial in the confidential computing’s new threat model. TDX can be leveraged by regulated industries or sensitive data holders to outsource their computations and data with end-to-end protection in public cloud infrastructures. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of TDX to potential adopters, domain experts, and security researchers looking to leverage the technology for their own purposes. We adopt a top-down approach, starting with high-level security principles and moving to low-level technical details of TDX. Our analysis is based on publicly available documentation and source code, offering insights from security researchers outside of Intel.