Linus Torvalds suggests disabling AMD’s fTPM

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Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds has suggested disabling AMD’s fTPM firmware-based TPM module altogether, due to ongoing issues with the module causing intermittent stuttering.

TPMs are used to securely create and store cryptographic keys, certificates, and passwords. They also generate random numbers for software to use.

AMD’s fTPM module can cause stuttering when it is in use, as it accesses its flash storage via a serial interface. This can hold up activity by the rest of the system, resulting in spluttering performance.

The problem was first reported on PCs powered by Microsoft Windows, and was resolved in a BIOS update. However, the issue also impacted Linux, and while a kernel-level patch appeared to have resolved the bug, the slowdown has cropped up again.

Torvalds has argued that the fTPM module is causing more problems than it is worth, and that it would be better to disable it altogether. He suggests that the processor’s rdrand instruction can be used instead to generate random numbers.

Torvalds’ suggestion has been met with mixed reactions from the Linux community. Some users have agreed that the fTPM module is causing problems, while others have argued that it is still a valuable security feature.

The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.

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