Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google is planning to unveil technical details of the Titan chip – its custom chip for hardware security for its cloud computing division – today. The Mountain View, California-based company had already announced the chip at its Google Next conference earlier this year, when Urs Holzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google Cloud, wore it on his earring to draw attention to its small size.
According to Google, the chip establishes a "hardware root of trust." In simple words, this means that the chip enables security for Google servers at the hardware level, preventing unsecured and unauthorized access of hardware. Most server hardware is manufactured in Asia and transported across geographies. According to Neal Mueller, head of infrastructure product marketing at Google Cloud Platform, this has led to security concerns about nation states hacking hardware to gain access to confidential data. He said the Titan chip allowed Google to "maintain a level of understanding" in its hardware that it otherwise would not have. (See also: The Business of Google.)
In recent times, Google has emphasized its security and artificial intelligence credentials to distinguish itself from competitors. For example, it introduced other features, such as the ability to redact and filter personally identifiable information from massive databases as well as a new way for connecting to virtual private networks (VPNs) at its Google Next conference earlier this year. (See also: Two Announcements From Google's Cloud Conference.)
Google's cloud division, which is part of the Other Bets category in its balance sheet, has shown significant uptake in the past couple of quarters. The Other Bets category reported double-digit growth percentages during the past two quarters. During an April earnings call, Ruth Porat, the company's chief financial officer, said that Google Cloud was one of the company's "fastest-growing businesses." (See also: Google: No to Price War on Cloud Computing.)
However, the company still has a ways to go before it catches up with cloud computing leaders Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT). Amazon's cloud division AWS dwarfs Google's business with an estimated $16 billion run rate. AWS is also three times the size of nearest competitor Microsoft, according to Synergy Research Group. (See also: What Is Amazon Web Services and Why Is It So Successful?)