Intel Reveals Chip Redesigns To Fix Meltdown And Spectre

Mindy Sparks
March 16, 2018

Intel has spent the first quarter of 2018 on the back-foot in its attempts to patch its CPUs vulnerable to three variants of side-channel attacks known as "Meltdown and Spectre".

By The original uploader was VD64992 at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsIntel experienced some serious setbacks late past year when Google Project Zero revealed some major flaws with its chip designs, but now, the chip maker is getting back on track.

Earlier this week, a little-known security firm caused controversy by claiming it had found multiple hardware flaws in Intel rival AMD's processors, which could be exploited in a similar fashion to Meltdown and Spectre.

The attacks give intruders a way to exploit a performance-enhancing CPU feature called speculative execution to view sensitive information stored on chips, such as passwords.

The disclosure of Meltdown and Spectre roiled the computing world, prompting a series of lawsuits and a congressional inquiry about Intel's handling of the matter.

In public statements and private briefings to reporters and analysts, it has shifted from claiming these bugs are overblown and not a problem, to admitting they are a problem but are easy to mitigate, to confessing they are not so easy to mitigate but at least there are no ill effects, to conceding there are some ill effects but it's nothing to worry about, to finally confirming: the issues are so embarrassing, we've redesigned our processors to address the design blunders.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the chip redesigns today in a post on the company's website. The chips are due out in the second half of the year.

While Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software mitigations, we are making changes to our hardware design to further address the other two.

"As we bring these new products to market, ensuring that they deliver the performance improvements people expect from us is critical", he added.

These hardware changes, which won't be capable of mitigating Spectre v1, will see the implementation of a new partitioning system that improves both process and privilege-level separation. "Our goal is to offer not only the best performance, but also the best secure performance", he said. Intel Corp said yesterday new computer chips created to address vulnerabilities disclosed earlier this year would be shipped in the second half of 2018.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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