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Intel is redesigning its processors to guard against Meltdown and Spectre

Intel announced today that it is redesigning its upcoming processors to protect against the recently disclosed Spectre flaw at the hardware level. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says in a new post that the one Spectre variant will continue to be addressed by software updates, but Meltdown and the remaining Spectre variant will be mitigated by implementing partitioning in its next-generation Xeon processors and its eighth-generation Core processors due later this year.

From Intel:

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. We have redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning that will protect against both Variants 2 and 3. Think of this partitioning as additional "protective walls" between applications and user privilege levels to create an obstacle for bad actors.

In addition to the hardware redesigns, Intel also announced that, as of today, it has shipped microcode updates for 100 percent of its products launched in the past five years that require protection from Meltdown and Spectre. That process hasn't been pain-free: Intel's initial rollout included buggy updates that were found to cause unwanted reboots on machines that applied them. That issue appeared to have been remedied since, and Microsoft is now assisting in distributing microcode updates via its update catalog.

Besides Intel's own fixes, a number of other companies have been busy rolling out software updates since the disclosure of Meltdown and Spectre. Microsoft issued an emergency patch early on, followed by a set of firmware updates for Surface devies. AMD also announced optional patches, while NVIDIA rolled out a set of software patches for its GPU drivers.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

5 Comments
  • Mitigation in secrecy!
  • Hi Dan. Meltdown is Variant 3, not 1. So what Intel is really saying is that it will include hardware mitigations for Meltdown and for Spectre Variant 2, while Spectre Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software. A good overview of these exploits is here: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/meltdown-spectre-exploits-intel-amd-arm... Cheers.
  • Ooft, apologies for the mixup and thanks for pointing out the mistake!
  • Still nothing for Haswell…
  • Haswell is done as far as Intel is concern...It is the OEMs that are sitting with their T's up their A's on issuing a new firmware... We may never see one! So don't get your hopes high!