Intel plans to release processors with Spectre/Meltdown Hardware Mitigation in 2018

Intel has working to settle their Meltdown/Spectre issues quickly

Intel plans to release processors with Spectre/Meltdown Hardware Mitigation in 2018

Intel plans to release processors with Spectre/Meltdown Hardware Mitigation in 2018

Intel is continuing to shore up their defences against the dangers of both Spectre and Meltdown, continuously releasing new microcode changes to mitigate the risks raised by these speculative execution vulnerabilities.

In a new blog post, Intel's CEO, Brian Krzanich, has confirmed that the company has released new microcode updates for every product that the company has released within the last five years, while also detailing Intel's plans to address the issue with future products. 

Krzanich has stated that Intel will release products with built-in hardware mitigations later this year, both with Cascade Lake, Intel's Next-Generation Xeon Scalable processors and new Intel 8th Generation Core processors, which will release in the second half of 2018. 

These hardware mitigations will allow these fixes to prevent the problems raised by these speculative execution attacks without as high of a performance penalty, reducing the impact of today's software-based updates or eliminating them entirely.

It is worth noting here that these hardware mitigations will apply to Spectre Variant 2 and Meltdown, utilising new partitioning techniques to protect data. Spectre Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software, with it being the most challenging issue of the three to fix in hardware. To be honest, Intel has done a great job to address Spectre Variant 2 and Meltdown this quickly, as these fixes have been implemented within silicon within 12 months of becoming aware of the issue. Remember that Intel was informed about this issue long before the problem became public knowledge.   

   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.

At this time it is unknown what Intel means by their 8th Generation processors that are due in the second half of this year, which likely means that 10nm Cannon Lake chips will ship with 8th generation branding. Right now it seems unlikely that Intel will release new versions of their existing 8th generation Coffee Lake silicon. 

At this time Intel is not releasing any technical information about their new hardware fixes, though they are expected to lessen the performance impact of eliminating the performance impact of today's software mitigations. Hopefully, Intel will also be able to release hardware fixes for Spectre Variant 1 in their 2019 processor lineup. 

You can join the discussion on Intel's upcoming Spectre/Meltdown hardware mitigation on the OC3D Forums

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