Google: Spectre patch problems? We're seeing 'no degradation' to system performance

Angelica Greene
January 16, 2018

Radeon graphics cards aren't vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, AMD clarified in response to questions, since, you know, they aren't CPUs.

In early December Intel began distributing firmware updates to try and stop the vulnerabilities.

Intel is still diagnosing the reboot issue, but it plans to release a revised firmware update, if needed.

Users of Windows 8 or Windows 7 systems using Haswell or older CPUs and would see a decrease in system performance after patching the flaw, Myerson noted.

"We're working tirelessly on these issues to ensure it stays that way".

Intel said it had planned to have fixes available soon. As for Spectre, companies like Google have issued a list of their services and their current safety levels, which also highlight recommended actions for users, one of which involves enabling "site isolation" on Google Chrome to help stop Spectre attacks. A report from the Wall Street Journal says that some of the patches Intel has released have caused problems of their own.

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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich addressed the issue during his keynote address at the CES tech conference this week, saying that updates will be issued for 90 per cent of its products within a week. He said the company is committed to providing frequent progress reports on patch progress, performance data and other information via its Web site. Vulnerability to Variant 2 has not been demonstrated on AMD processors to date.

Security analysts have said that Meltdown, which only affects Intel Corp. chips, is easier to exploit because the program to steal passwords and other data can be hidden on a website. "If the question becomes, 'Is [the pledge] valuable or just brand management?' the answer has to be that it's both", Wenzler told SearchSecurity.

Simon Segars, the chief executive of chip designer ARM Holdings, described speculative execution as the equivalent of spinning a bunch of plates in the air, with the plates holding data. The performance impact of this was significant.

"The pledge is likely brand management more than a real thing that will markedly increase security".

As operating systems continue to become more locked down, researchers will spend time looking at the nuts and bolts of computers to find vulnerabilities, rather than holes in software like Windows or macOS. The second Variant, which again is part of Spectre, proved much more hard to patch, as Google was specifically trying to avoid a hit to performance.

Other reports by GizPress

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