Meltdown and Spectre Flaws slowing processors, Intel confirms the report

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich speaks during an Intel press event for CES 2017
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. David Becker Stringer

13 Enero, 2018

The glitch underscores the difficulty of Intel's challenge as it scrambles to fix the unprecedented vulnerabilities, called Meltdown and Spectre.

Cisco said it is also looking for problems in nearly 30 other products, including switches and routers.

Intel has said it is committed to publicly identify significant security vulnerabilities and follow rules of responsible disclosure, in order to accelerate the security of the entire industry.

Shenoy said: "We are working quickly with these customers to understand, diagnose and address this reboot issue". The performance loss would be up to 10% level.

Intel are promising updates for 90% of their CPUs introduced in the past five years by January 15, and 'ongoing security assurance', outlining their plans to fund further ongoing security research, and to share any potential side-channel attack breakthroughs the company may have.

Intel has said it will issue fixes that won't directly affect performance, and the best thing to do would be to install them as soon as possible.

"If this requires a revised firmware update from Intel, we will distribute that update through the normal channels", wrote Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel. However, yesterday the chip maker admitted these updates were causing certain computers to unexpectedly reboot. The benchmarks cover SYSmark 2014 SE, PCMark 10, and 3DMark Sky Diver for DX11 gaming numbers. Distribution of patches for older CPUs was paused after they bricked some systems, but fixed versions of these updates should resume by next week.

Timely adoption of software and firmware patches by consumers and system manufacturers is critical, said Krzanich, adding that transparent and timely sharing of performance data by hardware and software developers is essential to rapid progress.

AMD is clear that its processors, including its Radeon GPU range is not affected, because the way their chips operate doesn't involve speculative execution, and therefore, the problem doesn't apply, though there is some evidence that Spectre's newest form could be an issue and AMD isn't about to get Intel type egg on its face. In the meantime, users should ensure that reputable endpoint anti-malware (anti-virus) software is installed and active with the most recent malware signatures.

AMD will make optional microcode updates available to our customers and partners for Ryzen and EPYC processors starting this week.

Exact performance effects on individual devices will still very much depend on how and what it is used for, but Intel's benchmarks suggest that many of us will see drops when browsing the web or using applications - both of which are common everyday taks.

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