ESXi hosts can use Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) chips, which are secure cryptoprocessors that enhance host security by providing a trust assurance rooted in hardware as opposed to software.

TPM is an industry-wide standard for secure cryptoprocessors. TPM chips are found in most of today's computers, from laptops, to desktops, to servers. vSphere 6.7 and later supports TPM version 2.0.

A TPM 2.0 chip attests to an ESXi host's identity. Host attestation is the process of authenticating and attesting to the state of the host's software at a given point in time. UEFI secure boot, which ensures that only signed software is loaded at boot time, is a requirement for successful attestation. The TPM 2.0 chip records and securely stores measurements of the software modules booted in the system, which vCenter Server remotely verifies.

The high-level steps of the remote attestation process are:

  1. Establish the trustworthiness of the remote TPM and create an Attestation Key (AK) on it.

    When an ESXi host is added to, rebooted from, or reconnected to vCenter Server, vCenter Server requests an AK from the host. Part of the AK creation process also involves the verification of the TPM hardware itself, to ensure that a known (and trusted) vendor has produced it.

  2. Retrieve the Attestation Report from the host.

    vCenter Server requests that the host sends an Attestation Report, which contains a quote of Platform Configuration Registers (PCRs), signed by the TPM, and other signed host binary metadata. By checking that the information corresponds to a configuration it deems trusted, a vCenter Server identifies the platform on a previously untrusted host.

  3. Verify the host's authenticity.

    vCenter Server verifies the authenticity of the signed quote, infers the software versions, and determines the trustworthiness of said software versions. If vCenter Server determines the signed quote is invalid, remote attestation fails and the host is not trusted.

To use a TPM 2.0 chip, your vCenter Server environment must meet these requirements:

  • vCenter Server 6.7 or later
  • ESXi 6.7 host or later with TPM 2.0 chip installed and enabled in UEFI
  • UEFI Secure Boot enabled

Ensure that the TPM is configured in the ESXi host's BIOS to use the SHA-256 hashing algorithm and the TIS/FIFO (First-In, First-Out) interface and not CRB (Command Response Buffer). For information about setting these required BIOS options, refer to the vendor documentation.

Review the TPM 2.0 chips certified by VMware at the following location:

When you boot an ESXi host with an installed TPM 2.0 chip, vCenter Server monitors the host's attestation status. The vSphere Client displays the hardware trust status in the vCenter Server's Summary tab under Security with the following alarms:

  • Green: Normal status, indicating full trust.
  • Red: Attestation failed.
Note: If you add a TPM 2.0 chip to an ESXi host that vCenter Server already manages, you must first disconnect the host, then reconnect it. See vCenter Server and Host Management documentation for information about disconnecting and reconnecting hosts.